The new Education Masterplan 2001-2010 should declare and recognise  the right of every Malaysian to tertiary education as a first step to transform Malaysia into a  K-economy

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): On 25th June 2001, the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad casually told reporters in Langkawi after opening a three-day forum on the 21st century format for teacher education that the Cabinet had the previous week approved the country's education blueprint for the first decade of the new millennium, designed to provide quality education for all levels of the countryís school system.

I have been waiting for more information on this  new Malaysia Education Masterplan 2001-2010, but there has been total silence since then.

This  is a most unprofessional manner in  preparing,  announcing and launching  a national education masterplan for the next decade in the era of information technology, when there should have been the fullest public interaction, participation and consultation at every  stage of the process so that it is the product of a national consensus and not the idea of some bright sparks in the Education Ministry completely divorced from the problems and reality on the ground.

The manner in which the national education masterplan is being drafted and implemented does not belong to the era of the knowledge-based economy, when in all the advanced nations, knowledge is supplanting physical capital as the source of wealth and a nationís prosperity in the new era will increasingly depend on human capital as compared to physical capital.
The new education masterplan approved by Cabinet two weeks ago should be regarded as a draft and made public to be the subject of a national and  special parliamentary  debate later in the month, allowing for the fullest public input and feedback.

The announcement that the Cabinet had approved a new education masterplan 2001-2010 had actually come as a surprise, as it was only in May that many voices were raised about the need for a full commission of inquiry into the educational challenges and tasks in Malaysia, including a call by the former Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Musa Hitam.

All these calls have apparently been ignored.  Equally disconcerting is the failure of the government to send out a clear and loud message that it is fully conscious of the need not only to expand the quantity but also to improve the quality of higher education in Malaysia by resolving in particular the controversy of fair universities admission at public universities.

In a knowledge-based economy,  the generation and utilization of knowledge contribute to a significant part in economic growth and wealth creation.  While the traditional factors of production, that is labour, capital, raw materials and
entrepreneurship, remain important, knowledge will be the key factor driving growth, creating new value and providing the basis to remain competitive.

In fact, in the new world of  K-economy, higher education is no longer a luxury but essential to national social and economic development. This is because participation in the knowledge economy requires a new set of human skills. People need to have higher qualifications and to be  capable of greater intellectual independence.

If the Education Masterplan 2001-2010 is to be fully relevant to Malaysiaís challenge to transform itself into a K-economy, it should declare and recognise the right of every Malaysian to tertiary education!


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman