Groups hope ministers will improve education

PETALING JAYA: Big hopes lie on the shoulders of the new Education and Higher Education ministers as they steer the country’s future generation forward.

Groups involved in education said both ministries should introduce policies that keep students competitive in an increasingly globalised world.

Fadhlina Siddiq is the new Education Minister while Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin is the Higher Education Minister.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim would like the ministers to propel the country’s education system to new heights.

“We would also like to see continued emphasis on English language proficiency with more Dual Language Programme (DLP) schools given support and resources. Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) must be invested in and given a boost,” she said.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin wants the Education Ministry to implement strong initiatives.

“The ministry should prepare students for an increasingly globalised world and do away with unnecessary subjects,” he said.

Meanwhile, National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Fouzi Singon lauded the separation of both ministries as both were heavy portfolios.

He hopes for a closer cooperation between both ministries.

Fadhlina, a member of the Dewan Rakyat, is the first female to lead the Education Ministry.

She was made a senator in the Dewan Negara last year to represent the Penang state assembly.

The lawyer was elected as Wanita PKR chief in the party elections earlier this year. Her father is the late academician Datuk Dr Siddiq Fadzil.

National Association of Private Educational Institutions (Napei) secretary-general Dr Teh Choon Jin said having Mohamed Khalid as the Higher Education Minister, for the second time, means he can immediately get the ball rolling and work on priorities.

He said he hopes the new minister would move away from focusing on rankings and zoom in on ensuring that we produce the manpower needed by the industry “as there has been a shortage of good talents in the country”.

“We need a minister who understands the higher education sector, particularly on the changing landscape of higher education and takes the bold decision to reform the higher education system to produce graduates required by the industry and making Malaysia a hub of educational excellence,” he said when contacted.

“When he was the Higher Education Minister previously, the focus was to ensure that courses offered were what the country needed and we believe that with his appointment, he will focus on ensuring graduates employability and student-centricity,” he said.

This would be the second time Mohamed Khaled will be the Higher Education Minister, having served before from 2008 to 2013.

Sunway Education Group chief executive Prof Datuk Elizabeth Lee said she hopes he will strengthen public-private partnerships in higher education and encourage joint collaboration between public and private higher education institutions.

“In addition, we hope he will emphasise on internationalisation of higher education, which will be vital in Malaysia’s ambition to become a top destination for international students as well as an engine for economic growth and social prosperity,” she said.

“Having previously worked with him when he helmed the ministry, I believe he has the experience and deep understanding of the challenges as well as opportunities of the sector, and will be a steady pair of hands in steering us forward.”

Higher education was part of the Education Ministry until 2004 when then-prime minister Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi separated the ministry into the education and higher education ministries.

Subsequently, both ministries were merged in 2013 and then split up again in 2015.

Following Pakatan Harapan’s win in GE14, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced that there would only be one ministry in charge of all matters regarding education.

Both ministries were then merged again in 2020.

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