Malaysiakini Letter

Free education for those in need, certainly

Philip Wong Pak Ming  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | It is most heartening to note that the Education Ministry will be providing free education to those most in need next year, as reported recently in the press. 

Amongst these recipients of free education in our public universities are those with disabilities and those who are receiving zakat. This is most timely for families who have faced financial difficulties to provide their children for higher education and the disabled who need such assistance.

Finally, the government has come up with a meaningful policy to provide for the public under the Education Ministry which has been receiving an unfair share of criticisms for some of its earlier policies. 

To further enable the young generation to progress, it is imperative that the government address the issue of courses available to students; more emphasis should be given to those courses which can lead to gainful employment after graduation to reduce the number of unemployed graduates. 

There is no point to provide subsidised education to students which are not related to job potential in the market; the world is moving into the digital age and job opportunities will be in those areas of growth.

Equally important for the education ministry to focus on is the issue of quality of our teachers; the constant complaints from employers is the poor level of language skills which are important for many types of jobs in the market. 

We should not be producing unemployable graduates who lack such basic skills and these have to be addressed at the teaching standard provided. It is high time that the government stop focusing on issues relating to vernacular schools as the simple question to ask is this: if the graduates from vernacular schools are to retain their places in institutions of higher learnings in Malaysia in competition with those from public schools, they must be able to perform. 

If they fail, then these students from vernacular schools will be dropped anyway so why create all the fuss about recognising the education certificates from these schools? 

Provide a level playing field in institutions of higher learning so that both public and vernacular schools will strive to improve the quality of their education for their students. 

In this way, parents will decide where they want their children to be and there is no need for the government to justify the presence of vernacular schools - perform or become obsolete.

The writer is with the Sarawak Institute for Public Affairs (Sipa), an NGO.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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