Kuala Lumpur, 24 May 2018: Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) welcomes the reforms that the Ministry of Education proposed to roll out and highlights the need to focus on incorporating creativity in the education system as well as the challenges faced by the poor and indigenous students. IDEAS have advocated for universities to be given autonomy, review of Trust Schools and the need to address the challenges faced by poor students in accessing education.
The abolishment of the University and University College Act (UUCA) 1971 and the promise to give autonomy to Board of Directors of local public universities to appoint the Vice Chancellor and Deputies based on merits and competence are much welcomed. IDEAS’ paper on “The History of University Autonomy” by Dr Wan Chang Da, has called for the UUCA 1971 to be abolished or at least amended for universities to be self-governed. Besides that, the paper also recommended that the decision-making power on university appointments be returned to the Board of Directors.
Wan Ya Shin, Social Policy Analyst at IDEAS, commented that “The policies to introduce teaching assistants in classrooms, reducing class sizes and reducing paperwork for teachers not only help to reduce the workload of the teachers but also enable them to focus on the core business of teaching. Creative new methods of teaching are needed to ensure that the children learn and continue to have curiosity and creativity in the learning process. As the role of technology increases, workers need to have skills beyond mechanical work and creativity is required to do the work which machines could not. Therefore, it is pertinent that our education system moves away from the conventional method of rote learning and examinations. It is time to review how Arts and creative teaching methods could be incorporated in the education system to increase the creativity of our students to prepare them for the future working world.”
On the review of Trust Schools, Wan expressed that “The promise to review on Trust Schools is timely. According to a study done by IDEAS in 2014 on the Malaysian Trust School Model, by Dr Arran Hamilton, whilst the Trust Schools programme has shown success, the model lacks scalability and relied on donations which is not a sustainable model in the long term.”
As for the education policies for the poor and underprivileged, Wan applauded that “The promise to increase scholarship to B40 and M40 would help students from lower income families to finance their tertiary education. However, the provision of the scholarship should also be based on meritocracy.”
Wan expressed concern that “The poor face challenges in accessing education and there are problems of dropout among the poor and the indigenous people. IDEAS have done a survey on “Voices of the Poor” and published papers on the challenges faced by the poor in accessing education. It would be pertinent to look at the challenges and tackle this issue to ensure that the poor and indigenous people are not left behind in terms of educational attainment.”
On “100-day promise” of higher education policies, Wan commented that “it is good that the government is taking into consideration the plight of fresh graduates who could not repay the PTPTN, but for those who could afford to pay back, measures should be taken if they default their repayment. The repayment of PTPTN would determine how much funds is available for future borrowers.”
The media reported that the new education minister, YB Dr Maszlee Malik, aims to ensure that the national school system becomes the choice of parents and students by implementing new policies to lessen the burden of teachers as well as refocusing on the core business of teaching and move away from the focus on rankings and examinations. Dr Maszlee will continue with the Malaysian Education Blueprint and is currently working on the “100-day promise”.