I REFER to the letter “Our education is world-class” by Chan Weng Kit of Ipoh (The Star, March 4).
I hail from an era (1970s) where local universities were overwhelmingly the first choice rather than foreign universities. Although I had an overseas tertiary education, I do acknowledge that there are aspects of the Malaysian education system that are noteworthy and indeed there are even pockets of excellence within the system.
Rankings alone cannot be the arbiter of quality. Also, the comprehensiveness or range of the syllabus cannot reflect the overall quality of the system. Taking the example of a car, what use are world-class tyres or steering systems or any single component if the sum total of the other parts – like the engine, transmission and suspension – do not do the job competitively?
Why are Malaysian universities churning out huge numbers of unemployable graduates who lack critical thinking, relevant language skills and confidence? I suspect a typical 17-year-old Australian or British student will likely be able to hold his ground better in a debate than an average graduate from our local universities.
Why is there an official government programme to re-train thousands of our unemployed graduates? Does this happen anywhere else in our region?
We need to look at the issues in our education system in a more holistic manner. Education is not only about knowledge.
In fact, knowledge is diminishing in relative importance because of the easy access to information due to ICT.
What is durable and relevant are problem-solving and process skills, communication skills, confidence, leadership, people skills and character. Ask any recruiter and he or she will tell you that these thinking and soft skills will trump a head full of knowledge which a machine can store more efficiently. What are we doing for our students in this area?
A wise person once commented that “we should not let school get in the way of our education”. There are other aspects of education that we need to address.
Our bane has been that our education policies have been buffeted by seemingly fickle policies and political agenda. It is no wonder that perception of the quality of our education over the decades has eroded greatly. As a result, today we see parents and students heading in droves to local private and foreign alternatives.
Perception is reality and we had better face up to the elephant in the room. SPI C75 Shah Alam The STAR Home News Opinion Letters 7 March 2016