Education Minister Maszlee Malik said today that his ministry is working on the issue of over-regulation of private higher education institutions that has been going on for “far too long”.
In providing more quality education, he said, the most important enabler was increased autonomy and accountability of schools and institutions.
“The philosophy here is that schools, colleges, universities, districts and states would understand their own needs, strengths and weaknesses the best,” he said in his speech at the 'Open Dialogue on Malaysian Education' organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli), here.
Also present was Asli chairman Jeffrey Cheah.
Maszlee said the government was now shifting towards accountability driven equity, where schools and institutions would be empowered with the skills and tools necessary to make the best decisions based on their own context.
He stressed that while regulations were necessary to ensure quality, the government was working more on performance-based regulations so as not to stifle innovation.
Thus, Maszlee said, the ministry would continue to engage education providers in crafting a Private Higher Education Roadmap which would cover issues like regulations, governance, internationalisation and more.
He told a press conference that the roadmap was still a work in progress and a timeline had yet to be implemented.
The minister also said that Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (Stem) education would be updated to become "Stream" by adding two vital components, namely 'Arts' and 'Reading'.
“The move to inculcate Stream has begun; we have the reading campaign, that’s a part of Stream, (while) arts, it’s going to be continuously enhanced in schools and universities; so it’s an ongoing effort.
“This movement (to upgrade Stem to Stream), we want it to be an organic one, rather than, you know … things that we impose,” he said.
Maszlee had joined the dialogue session with another panellist, Malaysian Association for Education president Ibrahim Ahmad Bajunid. The dialogue was moderated by UCSI's Architecture professor Mohd Tajudin Mohd Rasdi.
The session saw a few heated moments among the participants, including Syed Ali Tawfik al-Attas, former director-general of the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (Ikim), who had asked whether there should be a separation between politics and education in the Malaysian system.
Asked to elaborate on this at the press conference, Maszlee said one of the measures the ministry had taken was not to appoint any MP as the vice-chancellor of any public university.