Thursday, October 19, 2017

I WRITE based on my experience of having being a school teacher, a university lecturer and facilitator for thousands of executives here and abroad, spanning 35 years.

I refer to the debate on university education and unemployed graduates.

For as long as we are unable to admit our faults, but look for scapegoats or are bent on keeping a safe distance from our paymasters, we are doomed.

We will never resolve our education predicament.

Firstly, parents are to be blamed.

They have competed with their neighbours to make sure they can announce that their kids are in university.

To most Malaysians, getting enrolled in a university is the ultimate measure of great parenthood, a mark of having brilliant children.

Many look down on themselves and others if the kids are going to pick up a trade or skill upon finishing schooling.

To belong in this category is shameful and a mark of failure.

We fail to recognise that being purposeful in life and to society
is the greater glory of civilisations.

Adults have come to peddle the notion that in order to survive in this world, one must get into a university at whatever cost.

And so, throughout the schooling years, much is invested in tuition classes. As long as we keep the private tuition industry thriving while schools hand over this commitment to teach to tuition classes, we are to be blamed.

The argument may be one of wanting to make education more affordable or to create enough room for the growing demand.

The fact is university education is becoming more expensive. There is no university that is happy to just break even or operate at a loss.

Profits, expansions and grand facilities are all wrapped into a marketing bundle. Proclaiming excellence through glossy bro-chures and advertisements is the order of the day.

Thirdly, let us be honest if we are serious about remedies that can work.

The quality of lecturers and faculty members is not something we can be proud of.
Parents to blame for jobless grads facing the reality of the system
I have encountered so many of them who have stopped reading even a book a year, let alone do research to boost their knowledge.

Getting by, doing routine tasks, was all that mattered. It was this survival mantra that had taken root. Keeping your job and promotions mattered more.

And, the justification that prevailed was that the need to fulfil administrative requirements, cramped teaching hours, preparing for examinations, plus marking and grading, left hardly any time for them to read.

Fourthly, some students who enter universities are cut-and-paste material.

The majority of them can hardly write a two-page essay to demonstrate their understanding, comprehension and thinking abilities.

Gone are the days where teachers were respected for their passion and pursuit of knowledge and for being an authority on their subject. Gone, too, are the days when teachers wrote well, read well and spoke well.

For as long as parents run the race with blinkers on, we will continue to suffer this fate of unemployed graduates, unemployable graduates, misfit graduates, declining standards of professionalism and acute shortage of skilled workers.

A lot needs to be done to see a change or set the education system back to its glory days, where schools and universities were the hallmarks of excellent education.

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