In Malaysia, even education is fake

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YOURSAY | 'Most of the dud education establishments are for the enrichment of cronies.'

M'sia education hub or dud?

Falcon: I remember in the 80s, I dated a lecturer at the then-set-up medical faculty at a premier university in the north.

I remember her crying to me how the dean kept pressing her to pass absolutely weak and below-the-mark students and hold extra classes, even eating into her semester breaks.

I encouraged her to fight back. She did for a time, then caved in to the political pressure and threats that ensued.

Her words still ring in my ears today: "I tried, but failed. I told the dean, since you want a political solution to grades, you can have it. Thank God, these students would not be treating me in the public hospitals!"

Fast forward to 2017, sadly the situation Malaysiakini columnist R Nadeswaran writes about has not changed.

Just a month ago, I overheard the director of development of a certain ministry telling others, not realising that I was seated not far but hidden from his view, "We must help our people pass because they cannot pass on their own merit in these post-graduate programmes."

Has anything really changed?

Anonymous 767061504497195: Indeed, I know of one such institution which had a bad reputation as a nursing college, and thought that it had shut down. It has changed its name and now has a full-fledged licence to train doctors.

I know that medical practitioners refuse to employ their nurses, and they were able to avoid bad publicity through heavy advertising in Umno-controlled newspapers.

David Dass: I have met some Iranian students who are pursuing various courses here. The consensus of opinion among those I have spoken to (I must hasten to state that my survey is limited in scope) is that standards here are lower than that of Iran, and our costs much higher than expected.

Who were we to think that standards of education in Iran were low? So why do Iranian students come here? To escape life in Iran. Many students I speak to describe life in Iran as like being in “hell on earth.”

Most Iranian students here appear to be in transit - on their way to Canada or the United States. A group of them told me that unemployment was very high in Iran, and that if given a chance 70 percent of Iranians would emigrate to the US.

Abasir: The "education" business in Malaysia has been burgeoning like a used-car business since the late 90s.

And like the used-car lots that seem to occupy almost every vacant space in urban and suburban areas, these "education" enterprises are subject to the barest of regulations.

In fact, I would say that except for a handful of shoplot "colleges" whose licences have been pulled, the Malaysian Qualification Agency (MQA) and Ministry of Education (MOE) have merely served to legitimise their operations.

There are several reasons for this:

1. Malaysia's politics-infested bureaucracy regularly operates on a quid pro quo basis... which has seen real-estate developers becoming "presidents" of universities (with "doctorates", of course).

2. Retiring pegawai kanan (senior officers) from the MOE have always found ready employment in these establishments... through a "recruitment" process that starts when the pegawai is still in service.

3. Given the profit motive/competition, these businesses treat students as paying customers who must get what they are paying for.

Then, of course, there is the matter of earning foreign exchange from these "education tourists" - a point not wasted on the relevant ministries as well as the bottom feeders with houses and apartments to rent.

Finally, one must understand the local notion of quality. In Malaysia, quality is what someone in power says it is. Anyone who has had the misfortune of dealing with a government agency (which invariably has "SOPs" and a big "Q" poster displayed on a wall) should know what I mean.

In any case, the best proof of the MQA's efforts lies in the thousands of unskilled, unemployable graduates on the streets. Speaking of which, whatever happened to that national register of "PhD" holders?

Vgeorgemy: We have never been a proponent of private tertiary education, as we believe that it is the nation’s duty to educate its children to meet future growth. These children will repay the cost through the taxes and the income stream created by them.

This philosophy of investing in children's education with the taxpayers’ money was successfully implemented in Nordic countries.

They have the highest taxation regime and successful multinational companies. This is only a dream for us in Malaysia, due to our inefficiencies and highly corrupt ruling class.

So, the next best course of action is the private education sector. The market economy will take care of the quality of education eventually, as paying customers will demand quality education.

Most of the dud education establishments are financed out of taxpayers' funds for the enrichment of cronies, and have created the issue of poor quality.

The MQA may not have the resources to assess the quality, due to the existence of crony enterprises.

Ranjit Singh Malhi: The MQA should also examine the quality of PhD theses accepted by local public and private universities. Many of them are way below the generally accepted international standards.

Indeed, some of them do not even meet the standards of a first-degree academic exercise. I have solid evidence regarding this matter.

Fair Play: Our educational system does not teach students to think critically and articulate themselves coherently. I suppose copy-and-paste is their only forte.

Just a Malaysian: Everything is fake in this country. Even the supremacy of Malays is a fake concept for self-enrichment. Religion is abused. Our Parliament and its speaker are a joke.

The only thing that is real here is to make money and move it overseas.

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