DAP supports close government supervision of private educational institutions but wants immediate grading system for all public and private educational institutions to ensure quality education

Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang

(Petaling Jaya, Tuesday)DAP welcomes  the speech by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamad when launching the Open University Malaysia (OUM) yesterday that the government cannot and will not allow private educational institutions to be absolutely free of government supervision as  there is the danger of the unscrupulous offering education which was of low standards and even merely selling certificates, diplomas and degrees without bothering to conduct courses.

While DAP supports close government supervision of private education institutions to ensure that none of them become godowns for certificates, diplomas and degrees , the time has also come for the government to introduce immediate grading system for all public and private educational institutions to ensure quality education so that Malaysia can achieve its aspiration to  become  an educational centre of academic excellence.

The Parliamentary Secretary to the Education Ministry, Datuk Mahadzir Mohd Khir had announced a year ago that a  grading system for private colleges will be implemented by year-end to ensure quality in education while  the  deputy director-general for private education, Datuk Hassan Hashim, had explained   that under the grading system,  the 660 private colleges will be classified under three categories – A, B and C.

As 2001 has come and gone, and another year is about to end, the Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad should explain  when the grading of all public and private educational institutions would be introduced to assure public confidence about their quality and standards. 

At the opening of Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman a fortnight ago, Mahathir said Malaysian universities should be in the same league as  the world's top universities such as Harvard, Yale, Oxford or Cambridge.  This will be a tall order considering the unchecked deterioration of academic excellence and the dominance  of mediocrity in the  Malaysian universities.

In the sixties, there was no dispute that the  University of Malaya belonged  to the top international league of universities, but although it is still regarded as the cream of local universities, it is no more recognized  as belonging  to the international cream of universities.

Recently, University of Malaya was at first ranked No. 11 in the initial list of  Asiaweek’s Best Universities in Asia but in  the following year, it dropped to No. 54, and had  remained in that groove.

The government has a responsibility not only to monitor but to ensure excellence in both the public and private universities, and for this reason, a National Consultative Council for Private Education should be set up to represent the tripartite interests of the providers of private education, the government and the public interest (comprising educationists, parents and students)  to ensure that private education can rise to the challenges of the democratization, quality, access and affordability of higher education.

Both public and private institutions of tertiary education  have now almost the same enrolment of 250,000 students.  However, the public universities have a total of 11,000 lecturers compared to 9,000 in the private institutions. Furthermore, in public universities, there are 700 professors whereas in the private institutions of higher education, there are very few.

Setting and maintaining high standards of excellence  in private institutions of tertiary education, for both students and academic staff, have   become a national imperative.

The government should recognize that private institutions of higher learning have become a strategic  industry capable of producing skilled manpower and deserving of government funding. 

Starting with the 2003 Budget, which is to be presented in Parliament on 20th September – a month ahead of the conventional budget day – the government should introduce a new policy by allocating  a substantial sum  in the region of RM1 billion for the development of private tertiary education, especially in the areas of staff training, research and welfare (including study loans) of 250,000 students in the private sector.


*Lim Kit Siang - DAP National Chairman