EDUCATION is about empowering the next generation in support of the future well-being of a nation. But today that future is increasingly becoming an unfathomed space of unknown challenges. And the murky political situation, both within Malaysia and overseas does not help, either. And that, in a nutshell, is the dilemma facing educationists, including governments.
The fact is it’s hard to keep up with the rapid pace of technology as well as trends that are changing the way people live, industries work and nations thrive. Education experts lament the dilemma of educating tomorrow’s citizens “to innovate and capitalise on unforeseen opportunities?”
They have ample reason to be concerned. Look at the impact of artificial intelligence, robotics, driverless vehicles, genetic engineering and the Internet of Things (IoT) that are already changing the equation and disrupting life as we know it.
The so-called academic “world” as we know it, will be incapable of adjusting to these dynamics if they continue to sustain a rigid ecosystem of department structures, research councils and journals, with every single one working in silos.
The very heart of how institutions of learning function must change. The traditions formulated in the last century don’t work anymore. That is the reality.
Education today must shift its emphasis and focus on preparing the attitude and mindset of youths. They must be adequately prepared to respond effectively and intelligently to any kind of challenges that arise in the future. Our youths must gain the resilience they need to cope with a future we cannot predict. The kind of resilience that comes from a balance of creative thinking, emotional intelligence, multicultural sensitivity and technical competency.
Many Malaysians enter colleges and universities emotionally insecure. They are afraid to speak up, afraid to participate, afraid to express their individualities. When compared with the many foreigners studying here you can see the difference. With our youths facing global competition and global challenges it is a matter of survival that we make it a priority. Curricula developed by “intellectuals” may emphasise learning for learning’s sake without paying due attention to specific outcomes. What worked in the past won’t work now, and most definitely, not in the future.
The future is a shared space where youths of today will be the leaders, the game changers and initiators of change. It is therefore vital that education creates the ecosystem to build the right qualities which will create the corps of right-minded individuals who will lead the world to a safer and better future.
It is time to re-engineer education and not work independent of the industry world that our youths must enter when they graduate. It is a fact that the world of industry is turning upside down. They are the first to be hit by any disruptions. They are the most alert to new trends and changes. Therefore, industry is a vital stakeholder to education. A permanent one.
TAN SRI LIM KOK WING
Founder and president
Limkokwing University of Creative Technology