Humanising higher education

A FOURTH Industrial Revolution (IR4.0) framework to boost the quality of higher education in the country is being implemented, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad.

Dubbed ‘Humanising Higher Education for Future-Proof Talents’, the framework which was published last year, outlines strategies and initiatives to address the issues and challenges faced by the sector in regards to IR4.0.

Future-ready curriculum initiatives, agile governance programmes, research and innovation deliverables, as well as talent planning activities, are put forth as guidelines for higher learning institutions to develop future-proof talents.

Noting that the rapidly shifting landscape causes dynamic changes to the industry‘s needs, Noraini said universities need to emphasise their role in shaping future technology by being the testbeds for innovation and educating future generations.

“The fact that 65% of children entering primary school today will end up working in completely new job types that don’t yet exist means that there is a real need to strengthen the symbiotic cooperation between industry, academia, government and community (Quadruple Helix).

“We also need to enhance the innovation culture in Malaysia, ” she said during her opening keynote address at the National Education and Learning Summit 2020 in Kulala Lumpur recently.

Her speech was read by Deputy Higher Education Minister Datuk Mansor Othman who represented her at the July 28 event.

Noraini said the framework consolidates all of the ministry’s initiatives.

“The framework will require an approach and an ecosystem that optimise the relationship between process, talent and technology. To ensure the success of the framework, a closely monitored, well-coordinated implementation plan is crucial.

“We (ministry) are going to focus on Education 4.0. Educators must take on the role of facilitators, embrace new technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI), provide a future-ready curriculum and lifelong learning for all, and produce multi-skilled and multi-disciplinary learners for tomorrow’s job market.”

It has taken a lot of effort to develop the framework, therefore everyone should play their part in making the plan a reality, she added.

To make the framework a success, the ministry has come up with four strategies revolving around IR4.0, namely, strengthening the education governance system; enhancing the education ecosystem; developing highly skilled and knowledgeable talent; and enhancing research and innovation.

“Under these strategies, 13 initiatives and 38 programmes have been put forward.

“We (ministry) will continue with previously outlined plans to develop future-proof graduates with the right set of skills, abilities and humanistic values, ” she said, adding that globalisation and IR4.0 will change the future of employment with many current jobs becoming obsolete in the years to come.

The ministry, she said, has engaged with industry players to provide an annual evaluation of programmes offered at various higher education institutions.

This will ensure that the programmes are in line with industry needs so that Malaysian graduates will be more marketable.

Noraini said the ministry hopes that there will be more collaborations between industries in the different sectors to identify, recognise and mitigate any risk that IR4.0 may pose for graduates.

“These partnerships should involve an entire ecosystem of academic content development and delivery, including regular programme reviews, joint certification and open internship and job opportunities for students.

“Courses to prepare students for the future workforce should be introduced in secondary schools and in Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) institutions to ensure the relevance of education to the needs of IR4.0, ” she said.

She stressed that the future is a challenging one, hence, there is a need to be resilient, versatile and adaptable to change. – By LEE CHONGHUI

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