Thursday, September 04, 2008

The good, the bad and the ugly of Our Universities

The current issue of our deteriorating education standards is not something hopeless without solutions, be it a short or long term solution. I have been away for about a decade and have not much ideas on the current status of our education, especially university ranking, but with growing kids at home, somehow, one option is to enrol them into good universities regardless of the locations.

In any way, both developed and developing countries have the same kind of challenges to spur their education standards into new level to churn graduates to compete with the rest of the world.

Here in the UAE, there is a big revamp on the education system taking place especially to prepare for the future developments of the nation. It is more than political will, but in Malaysia, politics is in every breath we take.

Changes are essential and of course there will be hitches along the way but hopefully, our kids will not be the victims (or collateral damage) of circumtances or whoever political agenda.

We can have apex university based on our standard but at the end of the day, the question remains, are we there yet?

A good article from Malaysiakini.


Our varsities: The good, the bad and the ugly
Shawn Tan Sep 4, 08 2:55pm
The TehTarik sessions are the brainchild of a group of young Malaysians at Cambridge University who desired a non-partisan platform to foster open discussion on burning issues. Sessions are open to all as long as they have a shared passion for Malaysia. The following is based on the discussion that took place over a hot cup of self-made teh tarik.

A Malaysian university in the top 100 World University Ranking.
That’ll be the day.
In recent years, we have seen the embarrassing deterioration in the world ranking of Malaysian universities. Although ranks and good reputation are not at all conclusive parameters of the quality of universities, they are still insightful indicators.
Instead of occupying ourselves with improving the quality of education of Malaysians, we have been trying to feed the growing demand for university certificates from both the employers and the society by printing more certificates. True to basic economic principles, the result is inflation in the system and the erosion of the value of certificates.
The overarching logic seems to be that by building more universities and producing more graduates of whatever skills; this will automatically increase and enhance ‘human capital’ in Malaysia. Ping. Magic happens: more graduates, more people employed.
But of course, employers are not as easily fooled by the mere flashing of certificates hence the 25 to 33 percent unemployed graduates every year. Shocking? Not at all, once you scrutinise and understand the system.
Many would like to blame affirmative action as a cause for the slipping standards of higher education in Malaysia, maintaining that it has undermined meritocracy in society. The result is the production of graduates with skills that are either not up to standard or a total mismatch to industries.Many multinational companies have grumped at the additional cost and time they have to expend to retrain graduates before they can be of use.
Simply by increasing the number of entries to universities, we have created ‘bad’ universities and these ‘bad’ universities, although continuing to print pretty certificates on snazzy paper, produce graduates who fail to live up to the standard of what these certificates are supposed to verify.
Let’s tackle some of the problems head on.

A dual pre-university system

We all know about the lack of meritocracy in Malaysia, and that the university entry system is less than fair. Although in principle, Malaysia works on a quota system proportioned by race, in actuality the admissions filter is now placed at the pre-university level instead of at the university entry level.
Malaysia currently runs on a dual pre-university system - matriculation and STPM. Matriculation examinations are suggested to be much easier and with only 10 percent non-bumiputeras.

More HERE (please subscribe to Malaysiakini!)

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