Varsities that only turn out worker bees

Academicians pick out flaws of higher education blueprint as a mockery of higher education

KUALA LUMPUR: Academicians have ripped into Malaysia’s higher education blueprint, saying it made a mockery of higher education, with its focus on turning out employable university graduates.

The blueprint served a neo-liberalist business-minded purpose and was a disservice to education as a whole, they said at a forum organised by the Strategic Information and Research Development Centre.

Among the speakers were academicians Dr Tan Ai Mei (Malaysian Quality Agency), Dr Chong Kok Boon (University Malaysia of Computer Science and Engineering), Dr Terence Gomez (University of Malaya) and Geoffrey Williams (former Professor at Universiti Tun Abdul Razak).

Tan criticised the primarily market-based ideology of the blueprint, and pointed out the roles of higher education, to cater to the economy at large, human resource needs, and to foster a generation of knowledge, technology and innovation.

“They say that education is supposed to produce holistic, balanced leaders with entrepreneurial mind-sets. But how do you address higher education as a public good?”

Chong spoke on the need to ask the government to amend education laws and expand academic freedom.

Commercial interference should not drive education research, and academics and students should not have to worry about being charged with various offences.

“If we do not question the authorities, how will we progress?” he said, adding that he believed many academicians had been given demotions or side-lined because of the lack of academic freedom.

If students were not allowed to voice their concerns, society could not expect them to become future leaders. If youth were considered mature enough to marry at 18, why not allow them to be involved in the planning of policies?”

Chong also questioned the quality of teachers and academicians who did not know how to carry out research. “They just read from their books. Can a university like this advance knowledge? They just teach students what was learned 50 years ago, without advancing knowledge,” he said.

Gomez said there was “something fundamentally wrong with the education system” and criticised the blueprint for its neo-liberal focus on serving businesses which made it into “a complete mockery of the education system”.

Varsities that only turn out worker bees
June 27, 2015 – FMT


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