THERE have been many reports lately about fewer male students entering public universities compared with female students for this year’s intake.
It was even reported that the number of male applicants to public universities had declined over the past two years, while the number of female applicants had doubled.
Technical education and vocational training should not be classed as second-class education
For the 2013/2014 academic year, 46,481 females applied for a place in public universities compared with 22,221 males, while for the 2014/2015 academic year, 51,000 females applied compared with only 23,000 males.
There are several factors that contribute to the declining number of male applicants, one of which is that males tend to be more adventurous and want to start earning money immediately after finishing school.
Several experts have also said that male students preferred skills-based education with practical lessons, whereas female students were more receptive to cognitive learning as provided for under the conventional academic education in public universities.
Hence, most male students prefer to pursue their studies in technical education and vocational training, which suit their adventurous character, interests and goals.
Sadly, many still view vocational education as second-class system, which offers no income stability.
It is worth understanding that as the labour market in Malaysia becomes more specialised and our economy demands higher levels of skills among workers in the effort to become developed by 2020, governments and businesses in the country are increasingly investing in the future of technical education and vocational training through publicly funded training institutions and subsidised apprenticeship or traineeship initiatives for businesses.
Technical education and vocational training shouldn’t be depicted as second-class education. Technical education and vocational training has diversified in the 21st Century and now exists in sectors such as retail, tourism, automotive industry, information technology (IT), cosmetics as well as in the traditional crafts and cottage industries.
Currently, there are numerous vocational education centres, including vocational schools (high schools to train skilled students), technical schools (high schools to train future engineers) and vocational colleges, all under the Education Ministry.
Then, there are more than 30 polytechnics and nearly 90 community colleges, several Majlis Amanah Rakyat Advanced Skills Colleges, Skills Institutes and hundreds of Giatmara centres, as well as 15 National Youth Skills Institutes under the Youth and Sports Ministry.
Deputy Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has also shown his support when he stated last June that our Education Act 1996 would be amended to make technical and vocational schools and colleges an important part of the country’s education system.
By changing our perception of technical education and vocational training, and by supporting these education pathways, it may encourage students, regardless of gender, especially those who are at risk of dropping out and those who show no interest academically — to join in and develop their skills to fill the increasing demand for skilled workers.Dr Muzaffar Syah Mallow, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Nilai, Negri SembilanNST Letters 2 SEPTEMBER 2014 @ 8:10 AM