The government has recently admitted the need to reform our education system, but without a hint of irony they failed to mention the million ringgit formation of the Malaysian Education Blueprint which is a long term plan set to achieve its target by 2025.
We have seen this situation occur again and again in this country, whereby each new Education Minister comes in to redefine Malaysian education with no clear goals, or even a proper, sustained plan that prioritises the people’s interests.
This has not only affected the quality of our education, but it has also impacted our marginalised certain segments of our society that does not have access to better education due to lack of means or the lack of attention given by the government.
The government has provided a plethora of lip service when it comes to education, but in the end missing the bigger picture when it comes to addressing the real concerns. They have not aligned any of their strategies to the National Education Philosophy which seeks to enhance the fundamentals of being through education.
One of the most basic of concern is the right and access to education, which so far has been unequal at all levels of development. In this regard Pakatan Youth will promise a more equitable distribution of quality education which ultimately addresses the widening social inequality caused by the current status quo.
We believe wholeheartedly that education begins from birth and as such we believe a free, quality early childhood education is key to ensure that everyone begins on the right footing. Taking leaf from Selangor’s TUNAS programme which partly supports kindergarten fees for children from needy family, this concept can be further expanded nationally.
At the primary and secondary school level, we are also mooting for a part-decentralisation of school administration with greater autonomy for schools and district education offices. We realise that education is dynamic, and with disparity that is apparent in society it is therefore unrealistic to expect all schools to carry out a single education system without varying results.
The Federal Government should also play a greater role supporting alternative schools, recognising the choice of parents to educate their kids. This has been implemented by Penang and Selangor state governments through their support for Islamic and vernacular schools.
On that note, more will be invested to improve school facilities in rural areas, including building safe passage to school with better road system as well as hostels. Students need to learn in a conducive environment, but unfortunately right now the conditions leave a lot to be desired.
Recognising UEC and thanawi
An issue which the government has been avoiding for years is the recognition of UEC certificates and empat thanawi. It is baffling that this continue to be the case given the government has everything to gain from recognising these certificates.
For UEC especially, the certificate is recognised by some of the world’s most renowned universities but continue to be sidelined in Malaysia. As a result we are losing our own talents to others.
As a start, Selangor state government has recognised UEC through its state universities and the Penang and Sarawak government have also recognised the same. This policy should be applied nationally to prevent further outflow of talent.
Higher education agenda
In addition, we also maintain our stance of providing free education at public universities.
With a rising cost of living and stagnant wages, what the BN government has done to the people is truly unjust, and the fact that the government still has the gall to cut huge portions of the education budget making their actions almost criminal in nature.
The reality is the concept has been successfully applied in advanced nations like Finland, Germany, Sweden and Norway which are recognised as having some of the world’s best education system.
Of course, in this regard, we do not expect the instantly phase out PTPTN but realistically there should be certain leeway with regard to payment of the loan, and as such taking into account the cost living, PTPTN payment should only be made compulsory once a person’s salary has reached a minimum of RM4,000.
Universities must also be granted the autonomy and freedom so students can fully participate in issues of the country. Selection of university vice chancellors and rectors should be made without political interference.
Pakatan Harapan also proposes to build more higher learning institutes, including universities, teaching colleges and vocational colleges, to reduce demand on private higher institutions of learning. This will reduce private institutions that do not pass the grade and ensure only the best ones survive.
In order to avoid a glut of university graduates we also propose to enhance technical and vocational education with high-end disciplines which is also vital if this country were to move towards an advanced economy premised on highly skilled workforce.
Commit towards an equitable future
Barisan Nasional has failed this country’s education system, and has risked our future. We must take a stand now to rid of such ill-discipline in planning for a more sustainable, fair and well-balanced education programme that will improve the lives of all levels of society. As education is fundamental towards solving social inequalities, Pakatan Harapan will ensure that education gets the priority it deserves.
Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad
Wong Kah Woh
DAPSY National Chief
Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman
ARMADA National Chief
Mohd Sany Hamzan
Amanah Youth National Chief