Focus on creating lifelong learners
RECENTLY, the Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh, launched the Guideline for the Accreditation of Prior Experiential Learning Credit Award, referred to as APEL (C), and the Credit Transfer for MOOC (Massive Open Online Courses) Guideline.
I would like to applaud the Ministry and the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) for this far-sighted initiative as part of the strategy to support flexible education.
To me, this is a major milestone in the history of higher education in Malaysia and has made Malaysia the first country in the world to develop a national policy on credit recognition for the MOOC.
The ministry has mandated the Malaysian Qualifications Agency (MQA) to spearhead and implement the “MOOC plus credit recognition and transfer” initiative, which would enable all MOOC courses from Malaysia and other platforms such as Coursera, Edx, Canvas, to be registered into Malaysia’s MOOC platform and be given credit.
All of these will provide and support lifelong learning for Malaysians.
The question is, are we ready? As someone involved directly on the ground, helping to lead the Malaysia MOOC initiative for the 20 Malaysian public universities, I can see the challenges ahead, but as author Anthony Robbins said, “The only impossible journey is the one you never begin.”
I believe MOOC has the potential to transform the landscape of education. In fact, 22 of America’s top 25 universities in the US News & World Report rankings are now offering courses online for free.
In 2014, the big three MOOC providers, Coursera, Udacity and edX, introduced their own credentials.
Last year, the University of Illinois College of Business launched an online-only iMBA programme which cost one-third as much as a master’s degree from an institution of similar stature.
In October last year, MIT announced a pilot programme allowing learners worldwide to take a semester’s worth of courses in its top-ranked, one-year Supply Chain Management (SCM) master’s programme that was conducted online.
It also allowed them to then complete an MIT master’s degree by spending a single semester on campus.
All these developments are made possible because of the advent of ICT.
But more important is the willingness of academic leaders at the institutions to reimagine higher education — reimagine the educational model and the processes — admission, curriculum, delivery, assessment and business model, among others.
The MOOC for credit initiative announced by the ministry is beyond what the institutions in the US have done. It is very bold indeed!
The ministry is already leading the way with the unique Malaysia MOOC model because it is a national agenda involving the nation’s 20 public universities.
It is indeed one of its kind and has become the talking point especially in this part of the world.
The MOOC actually provides a cursory snapshot of what a university can offer in terms of quality education.
It can highlight the strength of the institutions. Therefore, any university embarking on the MOOC project must be ready to put in some investment to ensure the courses are developed to the highest standard.
For example, Harvard has an in-house course production studio with over 50 staff, including specialists in instructional design, production, research, technical operations, and programme support. MOOC for credit requires a change in mindset and paradigm – reimagining higher education.
To me, it’s almost unbundling the traditional system as we know it. Prof Dr Abd Karim Alias The STAR Home News Education 2 October 2016
Making national schools our first choice
THE multiple school system of today is a by-product of the “divide and rule” policy of the British rule in our country and it has worked successfully for the different communities since independence.
The vernacular schools play the role of custodians of the cultural, social and educational needs of the Chinese and Indian community.
The vernacular school system, a British legacy was accepted as a means to promote and preserve the cultural, social and educational needs of their community at that time.
However today vernacular schools have been accused of promoting marginalised communities.
There are calls for a single national education system to bring together children of different races under a national education system.
The envisioned one schooling system for 1Malaysia is the fundamental key to national unity and the panacea for social integration and prosperity.
Having children of different races in a one school system from preschool and primary school, to secondary school and tertiary education, will enable them to interact and live with greater understanding, tolerance, acceptance and respect for one another.
The idea to unify all the different primary school systems under one system with multiple choices of education made available would be an ideal and feasible option if only certain issues on the implementation and fate of vernacular educators are addressed.
The implementation of the single school system has to take into consideration the fate of the thousands of vernacular schools in the country.
There are 1,295 Chinese primary schools and over 500 Tamil primary schools with thousands of teachers who teach the mother tongue to the children.
Many of these teachers can only teach in their mother tongue.
How will these teachers fare in a single school system and what will happen to these schools?
And what about the position of senior assistants, curriculum and student affairs teachers in such schools? These assistant teachers appointed by the Education Ministry have been selected based on their experience and service.
And what will be the fate of the head teachers of the vernacular school in a single school system? Will they retain their positions?
What about the posts of the vernacular language officers in the district and state education departments? What will happen to the mother tongue language faculties in teacher education institutes and universities?
There are hundreds of lecturers who specialise in training and teaching teachers to teach the vernacular languages in schools.
The stakeholders of the vernacular school system have to be convinced that under the single school system, the vernacular languages of the different communities will be taught as language subjects to their pupils.
There should be provision in the timetable to teach the mother tongue language teaching where cultural and moral values can be integrated in the lesson to make it an enriching and enlightening language learning experience.
There are many parents who seem to have lost faith in national school.
And while there are policies in place that emphasise the teaching and learning of English, there are teachers who play by their own rules.
Such issues including those that touch on matters concerning logistics in vernacular education have to be addressed before the idea of a single school system can be discussed by the relevant authorities.
The merits of a single school system will fulfil the ultimate objective of the national education policy and the 1Malaysia concept and reflect the true identity of our country’s unity in diversity.
The concept of national schools in this country is that it should be the mainstream of education for children of all races.
This can only be achieved if the children of all races, faiths and cultures all go to the national schools, which should strive to be truly national to attract these children.
National schools should be strengthened to become the school of choice for all Malaysians so that the aspirations of the Education Plan are realised. Samuel Yesuiah Seremban The STAR Home News Education 2 October 2016