Our columnist gives his take on how the blueprint for higher education will affect school-leavers in the long run.
THE Higher Education Blueprint goes beyond education. It is about charting a new direction that will determine the future of our nation – this was what Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said at the launch of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) on Tuesday.
There is no doubt as to the importance of education to a nation and the statement reaffirms the Education Ministry’s aim in introducing the Higher Education Blueprint – to raise the standard of our higher education system, to build on our strengths and comparative advantages, and to meet the demands and needs of the ever-changing education landscape.
I would also like to state that a student-centred focus lies at the heart of the Higher Education Blueprint. All initiatives and strategies are ultimately pursued with the best interest of the students as foremost consideration.
Towards meritocracy: Idris chatting with varsity students during a recent career expo. The blueprint will meet the
demands and needs of the ever-changing education landscape. – Bernama
Therefore, a question I am frequently asked is “How will the Higher Education Blueprint appear like in action?”
In answering this, allow me to share the following examples involving three friends, namely, Hasiah, Chong and Sam. These stories will reflect the future of the higher education system -- as well as explain the seamless continuity from the Malaysia Education Blueprint (Pre-School to Post-Secondary) 2013-2025.
First, there’s Hasiah. Upon completion of the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations, she applies and is offered a place in Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) to study environmental sciences. It’s a good choice because USM’s environmental sciences programme is one of the best in the world (ranking 28th overall).
Hasiah will receive a full scholarship from USM’s endowment fund which covers both her tuition fees and living expenses. USM’s endowment fund would be big as many successful alumni contribute to it.
The environmental sciences programme is competitive with a good number of international students.
They too want to understand better, for example, Malaysia’s tropical forests and its economic potential. This will surely keep Hasiah on her toes.
Hasiah’s favourite lecturer is Prof Lim. He is able to spend ample time with his students because he is part of the “teaching” career track, one of four academician career tracks available under the Higher Education Blueprint.
This teaching-focus enables him to be a dedicated lecturer. Hasiah’s favourite book isWhose Padi Is It Anyway written by Prof Akira. He is a talented writer who doesn’t teach as much because he is in the ‘researcher’ career track for academicians. He shares his knowledge through his published research.
Upon graduation, Hasiah gets to work for a padi research centre run by Mr. Vinod.
This job offer comes after Mr. Vinod spots Hasiah’s potential in one of his monthly CEO Faculty classes in which he and a few top CEOs commit about 30 hours a year of their time to teach in various local higher education institutions.
A few years down the line, Hasiah will be able to open a floral shop using skills she picked up from the entrepreneurial modules while at USM. She may prefer being her own boss and become a job creator rather than just a job seeker.
Chong obtained good results in his PT3 assessment, including an ‘A’ for science. Interestingly however, his psychometric assessment which is part of the School Based Assessment (PBS) indicated that he is more inclined towards vocational and technical education and training (TVET) programmes. Chong was not too sure of what he wanted to do – to get into the science stream or vocational college. The PBS’ psychometric assessment tipped the balance for him.
Chong opted for the Tawau Vocational College, one of the top in the country, for the remainder of his secondary school years. Upon completion, he joined the Ibrahim Sultan Polytechnic, which holds the status as a “Premier Polytechnic” as it is able to confer degrees. It was a tough choice as there are presently 33 polytechnics as well as 91 community colleges that offer various TVET programmes nationwide.
Chong eventually pursued a diploma in mechanical engineering. Upon graduation, he worked as one of the engineers for the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Railway project and makes a comfortable living for himself.
Skills-based workers, after all, are in very high demand. In fact by 2020, it is expected that Malaysia will need about 1.3 million skilled workers to drive growth.
Last but not least is Sam. Sam’s journey turns out quite different from that of Hasiah and Chong. After SPM, since he isn’t keen to enter university immediately; he takes up a part-time job as a mechanic, learning skills of the trade along the way. Eventually, the job becomes full-time.
Some 10 years later, Sam says: “I would like to take up studies in the field of business”. So, he applies for entry into university under the ‘Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning’ or APEL initiative which is administered by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA).
APEL is one of the lifelong learning initiatives under the Higher Education Blueprint.
To his surprise, his work experience enables him to enrol for a master’s degree programme without having to first obtain a bachelor’s degree!
Subsequently, Sam joins the Open University Malaysia’s MBA programme. He does not have to give up his day job as most of the courses are available online. With the Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) modules and through a blended learning system, Sam watches videos of lectures before going to class for in-depth case study discussions.
The education journeys of Hasiah, Chong and Sam illustrate the aspirations (and subsequent available shifts) of the Higher Education Blueprint. It is towards producing balanced and holistic graduates with entrepreneurial mindsets, the nurturing of “job creators” rather than just “job seekers”, the placing of TVET offerings at par with traditional academic programmes, and to make lifelong learning part of the nation’s culture.
In enabling all these educational avenues, the MOE will leverage on technologies like MOOCs and innovations such as blended learning and scale-up industry participation.
Higher education institutions will become more dynamic in order to ensure financial sustainability. Academicians will be able to opt for one of four career tracks, be it teaching, research, leadership or professional, which gives them greater flexibility and opportunities.
The Higher Education Blueprint is in keeping with the times. We are committed to ensuring that together, our goal of a holistically educated nation will be met.
The Higher Education Blueprint can be downloaded at http://hes.moe.gov.my/event/