The new government of Malaysia, Pakatan Harapan (PH), and Malaysian academics consider the education system as one of the most important sectors that need to be reformed urgently, both at the school and university level.
Priority is given to reform the Malaysian education system following the political changes that were brought about at the 14th General Election in May 2018.
In an interview with Al-Jazeera recently the Malaysian Education Minister, Maszlee Malik acknowledged that urgent reforms are needed in the education sector as it is considered as one of the basic requirements for Malaysia to become the “Asia Tiger” again.
He said, he is working to develop the education system to be at par with the developed countries and that Malaysian educational institutions would become the preferred places for education.
Malaysian academics are also calling to expand the scope of practical researches so that they are not limited to only four research universities that have been gazetted by the government and also the allocation of research budgets should be made, reported Al-Jazeera journalist, Samer Allawi.
Prof. Akram Khosairy, who was interviewed by Samer, also calls the Higher Education Strategy to reconsider the above matter to encourage scientific researches, strengthening the relationships between R & D centres and production centres (educational institutions and factories) and market the results of scientific researches for the benefit of companies and factories.
Khosairy, a professor at the Islamic University of Malaysia’s Heliport College said that scientific researchers are suffering from lack of funding. This problem is very much linked to the economic situation of the country. When the “crisis” is over, the relationships and the linkages between scientific research institutions and the private sectors would bring benefits to the societies.
With regards to the basic education, he stresses that the school curriculum, especially the primary education, must be given top priority in the reform programme, taking into account the cultural and ethnic diversities in the country to ensure unity.
Professor Khosairy criticizes the current education curriculum saying it does not meet the needs of the future and align with the social and the current political situation in the country.
Meanwhile, Maszlee Malik hopes that the number of foreign students in the Malaysian institutions of higher learning could reach to 200 thousand in 2020, and said that Malaysia is closely approaching to the goal set several years ago.
He pledged to remove obstacles to foreign students so that Malaysia will become a refuge and home for Arab and Muslim students (his opinion), and meets the educational needs for developing countries.
However, many education specialists are skeptical on achieving this goal because of the complexities in the immigration regulations and visas for foreign students and poor coordination between the government institutions, including the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Home Affairs for example.
Professor Khosairy calls on the government to adopt “real budgets” for scholarships granted to the Malaysians and foreigners to help promote education and scientific researches in Malaysia. The allocation of scholarships to foreign students will help market the education opportunities in the country.