PETALING JAYA: An education consultant has warned against oversimplifying the issues surrounding the high unemployment rate among graduates.

Speaking to FMT, Tan Ai Mei urged the higher education ministry to “troubleshoot” and get to the underlying problem, adding that it was not just about changing from one system to another.

Tan said the Malaysian education system was very exam-oriented and too focused on how many As students could achieve.

Underqualified students being accepted into universities was another problem, as is the issue of educators not holding their students to a high standard.

“In Germany, the education system is very broad-based. In Malaysia, it is too exam-oriented and narrow-based. This creates a society that lacks passion and inquisitiveness.

“The ministry must troubleshoot the underpinning problems of unemployment. Also, there needs to be academic governance, not corporate governance,” she told FMT.

Tan was asked to comment on a suggestion by Centre for Global Affairs Malaysia (ICON) president Abdul Razak Baginda that Malaysia implement a hybrid education system that combines academic training and vocational training.

Technical professional schools

She said educators needed to have broad-based knowledge and a very good grasp of their subject matter. She expressed regret that this was not the case at the moment.

She also highlighted the need for a clear distinction between academic training and vocational and semi-professional training.

Fellow educationist Ching Kok Boon said there should be technical professional schools of a better quality which offered students not only hands-on skills but also theoretical knowledge for the exceptional students who could then pursue their academic careers.

“One of the critical requirements to realise this is that we must have homogeneity and a narrow disposable income gap between a hands-on skilled and an intellectually skilled workforce.

“We don’t need that many universities. What we need is good quality higher education in both academic and technical professional schools.

“So I disagree with his proposal to split university education into half and half, of academics and vocational,” he said.

Meanwhile, Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the system should not be a 50:50 hybrid as this would impede strong academic students and drag down vocational students.

“We do however, believe that more vocational schools should be opened and that the standards of academic schools need to be seriously increased.

“We don’t want them to be ‘a jack of all trades but master of none’. In today’s world, you have to excel and focus on something to succeed. General workers have little demand. Specialists excel,” she said.

Noor Azimah added that students who were academically and vocationally inclined should have a clear and separate route towards achieving their ambitions.

In suggesting a hybrid structure, Razak had said part of the problem was that the country’s education system was too streamlined.

“Not everyone is going to be a rocket scientist or a brain surgeon.

“So there’s no need for so much emphasis on academic training while completely ignoring vocational training,” he had said.

Recently, Bernama reported that 54,103 graduates were unemployed last year even six months after completing their studies.

Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh said the number was based on the Graduands Detection Survey System (SKPG), which recorded that 238,187 students at institutions of higher learning had completed their studies last year.


Source: Free Malaysia Today

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