Thursday, March 29, 2012

Research Universities

Malaysia has around 20 plus universities including foreign universities such as Nottingham and Curtin universities all over the country including Sabah and Sarawak.. Out of these universities four of them are regarded as "Research universities". They are UKM, UM, USM and UPM.  The conferment of a research university by the Ministry of Higher Education is based on a number of criteria which include among others publication and research. The public  universities now are having a rat race trying to out do one another . They keep on reminding their academics to speed up their research and publications so that the university could retain their status as a research university. Getting the status means that they wil get millions in university research grants.

As a result,  life as a lecturer is not easy  compared to 15 years ago. You are always on your toes. With the MYRA II each academic would have to publish at least 4 journals a year. They are required to get published in ISI and Scopus journals. Otherwise, they would called for a morning bashing by the Dean. The lecturers'  academic performance is reflected in the colour of their "Jalur" or bands. If you are in the "Jalur Jingga" or orange colour  you are under performing or in the danger zone. And as a punishment you are asked to teach more hours and deprived from presenting papers overseas. But if you are in "Jalur Hijau" you are a top performer. As the person in this "Jalur" you are given much less hours and sometimes you don't even have to teach a class. Other academics especially those in "Jalur Jingga" would have to work longer and teach those classes left by the top performers.

In the madness of maintaining the Research University status and striving for a better ranking place in university ranking, the academics are made to work like hell. They have less time for anything else. They stay out until late in the evening trying to complete their research and publication. The fun of teaching and supervising students are diminishing. Imparting real knowledge to the learners is now  becoming less and less frequent. All the time is filled with writing papers for the Scopus and ISI journals and doing research. I think they are becoming selfish of their time.

As a consequence of this craziness of publication the standard or cut off point for promotion for AP ship and Professorship gets higher. Nowadays, its not even easy to get promoted to an Associate Professor in a research university compared to other non-research universities. The university administrators are only interested in proofs of publication in ISI and SCOPUS. Now, we see that even RAs or research assistants who are our potential lecturers are not interested to become lecturers in a research university. They too see how difficult it is to become one and they are giving it a pass.

325 assembly

Recently some ungrateful Chinese chauvinists with their race mongering Chinese educationists had a rally they call " 325 assembly" in Kajang. At the rally they unashamely  raised one important issue to the Chinese that is totally  unreasonable  i.e to remove all English and Bahasa Malaysia teachers from Chinese schools in the country.They do not want the Malays who teach Bahasa Malaysia and English to continue teaching in the school. They only  want to have 100 % Chinese school devoid of other races. Mind you we  are talking about the existence of such puritan schools not in China or the Taiwan Republic but in a constitutional monarchy Malaysia, all over Malaysia. We are probably the only country allowing vernacular schools.

This demand has crossed the red line. This is really a racist and chauvinistic demand.  The demand does not make sense.I don't think the US despite known for its freedom would allow such schools to be run in that country. In Thailand , all the Malays in Southern Thailand are not allowed to have such schools and the Thai government is very persistent about that. In Singapore too  no chinese schools are allowed for Singaporeans and they would likely  use ISA on  that kind of extremist group.Only in Malaysia they can do it. You  know why? It's because we have have a government that is weak and lacking in hard balls.

I don't think Malaysia or its Bumiputera citizens have ever stopped these groups from using their own language at home or  in the school. They can use their language where ever and whenever  they want it. They are even allowed to to have their own Chinese schools. These schools are  even administered by their own race  based group but supported financially by the government . In fact, the BN government has spent billions of dollars to support these schools.And recently the government has even recognized students with  the UEC certificates to enter government's  institution of higher learning. It was really an  inappropriate decision in the context of national education policy.I also  believe that  the recognition  of UEC certificate runs contrary to One Malaysia concept espoused by Najib.

Dong Zong President Yap Sian Tian is trying to play a racial card. He is now fanning the ordinary and hard working but  emotional Chinese to rise up and vote against the BN government. I hope the BN government in general and UMNO specifically would  not entertain these unreasonable demands. Dr Riduan Tee Abdullah has even called these group's demands as " insolent". I don't think the government should stoop that low in pandering these extremist groups. I think we have compromised for too long and too much. We need a leader who's really strong that can lead the nation and guide it within the context of the national education policy and the Constitution. It's not worth pandering  these Chinese groups . Once they have got what they want the  next thing they demend is probably to remove Article 13 of the Constitution. It seems that their ultimate target is  the Singapore model in every sense of the word. Damn Dong Zong.