PETALING JAYA: Industry players have greeted the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) of improving and transforming the country’s education system with calls for more funding and autonomy.
Under the plan, the ultimate goal is to create a highly skilled talent pool to meet the country’s human capital needs.
According to the five-year plan, it will focus on four key areas – improving the quality of education, transforming technical and vocational education (TVET), strengthening lifelong learning and increasing the efficiency of the labour market to meet industry demand.
National Association of Private Educational Institutions president Elajsolan Mohan said the initiatives to improve the quality of education and TVET were a welcomed move.One of the key issues that affect the TVET sector, he said, was funding and salary structure, which is not as competitive as other developing countries.
Skills training programmes and private higher education institutions (HEIs), he added, must be funded or subsidised to allow them to invest in modern high technology equipment.
“Many private HEIs and TVET institutions will need financial support to be sustainable and to recover from the impact of the pandemic. As it is, quite a number have already closed down.
“We also need better pull factors to attract more international students. Currently, we are not competitive and are facing challenges with developed countries; even neighbouring countries are able to attract a large number of international students,” he said.
Malaysian Association of Private Colleges and Universities (Mapcu) also welcomed the government’s enhanced priority on higher education, as it covered both supply and demand perspectives.
Its president Datuk Dr Parmjit Singh said Mapcu hoped private HEIs would be provided with “greater levels of autonomy and empowerment” to support the aspirations of the 12MP.
Universiti Putra Malaysia deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Prof Dr M. Iqbal Saripan said education was a long-term investment for the country and widening its access would allow the country to nurture future talents and prepare the country to become an advanced nation.
“Areas like TVET, university-industry collaboration, governance and autonomy, for example, have been highlighted in 12MP, which universities can align with our main strategic plans to reach the targets in those areas,” he added.
Among the government’s selected targets for the 12MP, it wants to be at par with the international average for the Programme for International Student Assessment and Trends in International Mathematics and Science Study score; to achieve more than or equal the universal enrolment of preschool and secondary school students, which is 95%; and to achieve 86.7% graduate employability in higher education institutions and public TVET institutions.