Seeking higher education advice

THE National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) 31st Malaysian Education Fair 2012 was abuzz from the start.

With more than 90 exhibitors and 160 booths, it was no surprise that a large crowd had gathered before the doors were even opened.

Association president Assoc Prof Elajsolan Mohan said in his welcoming speech that it was the organisation’s aim to further enhance the quality of education.

“This fair will allow parents and students to meet representatives from various institutions and find out more about them,” he said, adding that the people are the country’s most valuable asset.

Although the association represents private institutions at all levels (from preschool to tertiary education), the exhibitors at the fair included education providers such as government agencies, skills training, postgraduate education and scholarship information providers; overseas education consultants and international schools.

“Higher education should be made available for everyone,” said Assoc Prof Elajsolan.

He explained that there may be students who are skilled in other areas although they may not be academically inclined.

“The education system should provide alternative options for them,” he added, citing the need for the system to create “master craftsmen” with the proper certification as done in other developed countries.

He also expressed hope that local private institutions would be improved in order to compete with the “international players” that are setting up campuses in the country.

The opening ceremony was officiated by Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris pro-chancellor Tan Sri Dr Yahaya Ibrahim who said that it was important for educators to be mindful of the “current learning evolution”.

However, it was the duty of students to make sense of the wealth of information freely available in this age.

“Students must know how to turn meaningless data into knowledge and wisdom,” said Dr Yahaya who has been in the education sector for more than half a century.

He added that the benchmark was to create students who were “able to work in a team, are multilingual and multiskilled, and able to work anywhere in the world”.

“They should be marketable wherever they are working,” he said.

The main aim of the fair may have been for parents and students to find out about specific institutions but that wasn’t the only thing offered at the fair.

There were also afternoon talks on topics ranging from “Interview Grooming, Attire and Etiquette for Fresh Graduates” to “How to Talk about Sex to Adolescents”.

When asked why the organisers had chosen to include the latter topic in an education fair, StudyMalaysia Exhibition executive director Tan Mui Hong said that they wanted to cater to a wider audience that included non-school leavers.

“It is an interesting topic that most parents may be interested in,” he said.

The talk was given by Nicole Chen, a registered counsellor on the Malaysia Counsellor Board. There was also a booth where parents could obtain further advice and information.

While many of the topics seemed lighthearted, information was also available on the Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships and National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans.

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