‘Dr M will bring back the glory days’

His vi­sion­ary ap­proach to­wards ed­u­ca­tion the best tonic for M’sia, say ed­u­ca­tors

The Star Malaysia - - Nation - Re­ports by ROYCE TAN, VIC­TO­RIA BROWN, REBECCA RAJAENDRAM, SAND­HYA MENON, LEE CHONGHUI, YIMIE YONG and TARRENCE TAN

PETAL­ING JAYA: Tun Dr Ma­hathir Mo­hamad has al­ways had a vi­sion­ary ap­proach to ed­u­ca­tion, says Malaysian As­so­ci­a­tion of Pri­vate Col­leges and Uni­ver­si­ties ( Mapcu) pres­i­dent Datuk Dr Par­mjit Singh.

“This is very much needed to rev­o­lu­tionise ed­u­ca­tion in our schools.

“I re­call a meet­ing with him in the early 1990s to get his sup­port, as Prime Min­is­ter, to make Malaysia a hub for in­ter­na­tional stu­dents.

“His re­sponse, af­ter a short dis­cus­sion, was swift: ‘To me, a for­eign stu­dent in Malaysia is a tourist 365 days a year, I wel­come it’.”

For­mer Universiti Malaya vice-chan­cel­lor Prof Tan Sri Dr Ghauth Jas­mon said when Dr Ma­hathir de­cided to take up the Ed­u­ca­tion Min­is­ter’s port­fo­lio, it made the min­istry spe­cial as to be given at­ten­tion by the pre­mier him­self.

“I am cer­tain he will ad­dress the de­clin­ing stan­dard of our ed­u­ca­tion, as mea­sured by the coun­try’s Pro­gramme for In­ter­na­tional Stu­dent As­sess­ment (Pisa) score,” he said.

Ghauth hoped Dr Ma­hathir would ad­dress bud­get cuts in uni­ver­si­ties, es­pe­cially in R&D.

“I hope uni­ver­si­ties are given full au­ton­omy and only ca­pa­ble vice-chan­cel­lors or pres­i­dents are se­lected so that they can make the in­sti­tu­tions more fi­nan­cially in­de­pen­dent and self-sus­tain­ing,” he said.

Tay­lor’s Uni­ver­sity deputy vice-chan­cel­lor and chief aca­demic of­fi­cer Prof Dr Pradeep Nair urged Dr Ma­hathir to bring back the Teach­ing and Learn­ing of Science and Math­e­mat­ics in English (PPSMI) pol­icy.

“It will not un­der­mine the im­por­tance of Ba­hasa Malaysia but will make our youth more pro­fi­cient in these lan­guages and hence, glob­ally com­pet­i­tive,” he said.

Pradeep hoped Dr Ma­hathir would in­sti­tute poli­cies that would bring back the glory days of na­tional schools by mak­ing them the first choice of par­ents of all races.

Par­ent Ac­tion Group for Ed­u­ca­tion Malaysia chair­man Datin Noor Az­imah Ab­dul Rahim said she ex­pected Dr Ma­hathir to bring back his brain­child, the PPSMI pol­icy.

How­ever, she sug­gested that he made im­prove­ments to the Dual Lan­guage Pro­gramme (DLP) first.

“We need to im­prove DLP so that PPSMI can be rein­tro­duced,” she said.

DLP is a pro­gramme for stu­dents to study Math­e­mat­ics and Science in ei­ther Ba­hasa Malaysia or English.

Hannah Yeoh, a mother of two and newly-elected Segam­but MP, said: “Ba­hasa Malaysia and English to be op­tions for par­ents to choose from in ur­ban ar­eas.

“As for the ru­ral ar­eas, many stu­dents strug­gle with the use of English. The Ed­u­ca­tion Min­istry should con­sider over­haul­ing the syl­labus so stu­dents’ English lev­els in ru­ral ar­eas can be im­proved.”

For­mer Ed­u­ca­tion di­rec­tor-gen­eral Tan Sri Dr Wan Mohd Zahid Mohd No­ordin said Dr Ma­hathir was the right man for the port­fo­lio.

“When he held the post pre­vi­ously, he in­tro­duced many changes, which im­proved the sys­tem.

“With his re­turn, I am sure the min­istry and schools will ben­e­fit,” he said.

For­mer Na­tional Union of the Teach­ing Pro­fes­sion sec­re­tary-gen­eral Datuk N. Siva Subra­ma­niam said the ap­point­ment was in the best in­ter­ests of the na­tion.

“Dr Ma­hathir was the ar­chi­tect of a num­ber of ed­u­ca­tion pro­pos­als as min­is­ter in the 1970s and was al­ways in­ter­ested in the union’s work. We look for­ward to re­forms tak­ing place,” he said.

A vet­eran teacher in Petal­ing Jaya, who wished to be known only as Sumi, said Dr Ma­hathir knew his stuff. “He could bring back the PPSMI pol­icy,” she said, wel­com­ing the merger of the min­istries.

An­other teacher, Anne, said she ex­pected Dr Ma­hathir to go for a re­vamp of the ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem.

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