kheru2006 (kheru2006) wrote,

On our ‘world class’ tertiary education system

It comes to mind that the idea of calling our local universities "world class" seems to be a bit of a stretch to many lawmakers and even the general public.

My thought on this is simply that such a statement would be relative. If you were to compare our universities to those in Libya, Iraq and current Syria, we would probably be better off.

However, the Second Education Minister Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh instead chose to compare our universities to those in the United Kingdom, Germany and Australia.

Oy vey.

So I decided to take a look at the QS ranking to just, you know, do the good thing and verify the information he quoted instead of being a politician pandering troll.

Universiti Malaya still remained Malaysia's highest ranking university, and yes, according to the list, it is ranked higher than the Louvain Catholic University (Germany), the University of Bath (United Kingdom) and even Macquarie University (Australia).

Technically, Idris is not wrong. One would have hoped a journalist on the scene would have asked which universities he was comparing ours to in his "world class" comparative study. What we have here, then is simply a sin of omission.

Nobody thought to ask the minister if he was comparing UM to Oxford, or simple to the ones listed above.

Of course, the matter then spread to how it is a ludicrous comparison considering how our local university graduates cannot even get jobs. Of course, again, politicians are more comfortable blaming the institution and the faculty even, rather than the students themselves.

I have no such limitation since I am not chasing votes. So here's the hard truth: our students are unemployable to some extent because they do not master the English language and have sucky attitudes.

A Jobstreet survey among employers highlighted problems in hiring fresh graduates include poor command of English (55.8%), poor character, attitude or personality (37.4%), asking for unrealistic salary/ benefits (33.0%), and a mismatch of skills (30.2%).

Even Bank Negara highlighted a similar issue in which 77.6% of companies they surveyed said that our graduates do not have the necessary skills.

The above two paragraphs are also from a speech made by Idris in 2014 as his keynote address at the 18th Malaysian Education Summit hosted by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute.

So if Malays are not so forgetful, let's hope that the honourable minister and those who attended the event at least remember this.

Employability has nothing to do with the university other than when it involves training the necessary skills of a career. For us Information Technology/Computer Science grads, that would mean the university needed to ensure that whatever coding language, networking technology and even mobile app development tools we learned was what the job market wants.

As far as the university should be concerned, that is all. The employability of a student is not guaranteed by the university, especially when it comes to the issues raised by the employer that has nothing to do with technical skills.

That's up to the students.

Perhaps the lawmakers do not want to say this, but the university is not your babysitter or English teacher who tells you to read Jack and Jane's adventures with Spot, the dog!

If students really suck at English at the average age of 18 even with access to Astro upon entering universities, then obviously this issue is a systemic breakdown not just of the Malaysian education system, but the Malaysian culture of bilingualism.

A culture that we have had since even before our establishment as a nation in 1963, and our independence in 1957, I might add.

However, the government has been working on this issue since 2012 with a due date in 2017 called the National Graduate Employability Blueprint  launched by the Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin, now the Johor menteri besar.

The objective of the plan was to increase the number of graduates able to get jobs within six months of graduating to 75%. One would think someone could ask what happened to this programme and its current status?

It is easy for us all to snort in derision at the minister’s statement, but guess what? We aren’t exactly speaking up and suggesting solutions either.

How do we, collectively as Malaysians, solve the issue of poor control of English and even horrible attitudes from disruption the job prospects of the next generation of Malaysian graduates?

That is the major question right now, and honestly, no single politician or commentator is actually opening up to say just how to do that on a major scale other than to blame the government.

Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country, right?

So, what can we do as Malaysians? – – Hafidz Baharom Malaysian Insider Side Views February 24, 2015.

Tags: education, ranking

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