Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Kementerian Pengajian Tinggi (MOHE) vs Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi

I don't like to write much about the Ministry of Higher Education, Malaysia and the powerful role played by the lowly qualified PTDs ( Pegawai Tadbir Diplomatik) . But whenever I write about the topic I would get lots of positive responses (as well as a some negative  ones ) from readers all over the world about the status of higher education  in Malaysia. Hence, it's so difficult for me to ignore the topic or not  write about it. However, what I would like to say today is that I hope after the 13th general election, the government of the day whether its Pakatan or Barisan ( off course I would like the Barisan Nasional -aka National Coalition-to win although I don't really like some of its corrupt leaders) would revamp the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). I believe the organisational structure of of the ministry is truly ineffective and it does not serve its purpose very well. There are a number of changes that could be made to improve the education system in Malaysia
'lowly qualified' PTDs running the MOHE

One of the things that can be done to the Ministry of  Higher Education ( MOHE) is to reduce or minimize the role of the PTDs. At the moment, the PTDs are in total control of the  higher education including the academic aspects. If you google  the organizational structure of the 'Pengurusan Tertinggi' you would notice that the Secretary General of Education, and both of his deputies are PTD agents. The Secretary General  seems to  oversee a whole lot of sections of the Ministry which include the academic sections such as  the Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi (JPT) which runs the universities and the Polytechnics and the Community colleges. In short, the PTDs are running the education show with absolute power  in this country. They decide on every thing education.I hope the new government would rethink about the powerful role played by the misplaced and sometimes arrogant PTDs. I believe we could not get rid of them totally as they also have an important role to play. I would suggest that they are given a limited role of running the non-academic sections of the Ministry.
Too much politics in education

Another change that could be done is  to elevate the Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi to become the new Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE). The Department of Higher Education or JPT is actually the main actor in the play and not the MOHE. The people in JPT are the ones who should be given the responsibility of running the ministry.The present MOHE is virtually administered by the PTDs and they are just the non-actors who are given the absolute power. The MOHE controlled by the PTDs should become only one of the minor players in the ministry and not the ones that run it. They actually have no role or very limited role to play. I believe most of the strategic planning by the higher education ministry is actually done by the good people at Jabatan Pengajian Tinggi (JPT) or the DS experts ( the university people) and not the MOHE because they (PTDs)  don't have the qualifications, knowledge and the experience to actually contribute to  the ideas. They are probably just the secretariat or the people who would give comments like "There's a comma missing in the memo". Please don't get me wrong. We cannot totally get rid of the PTDs as they have other equally important roles to play such as running the non academic sections of the ministry. We still need the bureaucrats to run the country.

The chosen ones?

Another major change that I really would like the government to do is to set up an education Commission  called Higher Education Commission which would comprise of  experts in Higher Education to advise the new MOHE in terms of how to reform the education system in the country. The experts should be invited from the DS or the Professors Emeritus locally or abroad who would suggest great ideas to revamp the education sector  in Malaysia. As  it is  now, the Ministry of Higher Education  is managed by PTDs who want the universities in Malaysia to run like Airasia or like DHL. Can you imagine a university running like Airasia or DHL. I don't know of any  establish universities in America or England that aspire to administer their education institutions like Airasia or DHL. It's actually the academic experience , research culture, publications that make the university and not the time of arrival/departure. This is one classic example why I actually propose that the real experts actually run the ministry and not the half baked lowly qualified  PTDs.

A political tool?

I really hope the next government of the day would also make education free from political interferences. Nowadays, much of the decisions made by the ministry is colored by decisions made by some unscrupulous politicians. Just look at the universities and colleges  in Malaysia. There are more that 500 institutions of higher learning in Malaysia with a population of only 28 million. There's too many of them. If you look carefully all the established political parties in Malaysia have their own institutions of higher learning. (MIC with its AIMST, MCA with its UTAR and UMNO with its KUB  college, GERAKAN with its Wawasan University ) If you look at the private universities you will notice that there are also  those without experiences, money and without qualified people  get to become universities. I hope we will not become like the Philippines where universities can just be a row of shop houses. I wish we could go back to the time when our Minister of Education was a vice Chancellor from USM who seemed to be not interested in too much of politics. He would sure that decisions on education would be free from political encroach. When its the ministry is  apolitical ,we will be able to actually provide Malaysians with real quality education.

I really hope that the government will get rid or minimize the role the PTDs play in MOHE. The ministry has got to be run by the  real experts who should come from education or from the university. I also hope that politics is minimized when making decisions on education. I really hope that our country will really move forward with greater confidence and a brighter future. 

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