Archive for the ‘Educational Issues’ Category

An education wish list

Sunday, May 20th, 2018

WHEN Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was prime minister the first time, he introduced Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Rendah and Kurikulum Bersepadu Sekolah Menengah, and relentlessly emphasised Mathematics, Science and English. We also take note of the Technical and Vocational Education and Training and information and communications technology (ICT) subjects introduced by the previous government.

The education system has undergone rapid changes and we are moving towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, emphasising digital classroom, Internet of Things, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics (STEAM) education. Perhaps it would be beneficial to research the education models that were successful in other countries and whether those models fit in our cultural landscape.

As the country is going through institutional reforms, the education system is one area that needs a complete overhaul. What Malaysians would like to see is that continuous efforts are taken to reinvigorate the system and make way for progressive education to take place in all levels, both macro and micro systems, from early childhood education right up to tertiary level. This is in the spirit of the National Philosophy of Education, which is “towards developing the potentials of individuals in a holistic and integrated manner, producing individuals who are intellectually, spiritually, emotionally and physically balanced and harmonious”.

Here is a wish list to revamp the education system:

MOST Malaysians are not ready for a single-stream school system, but the first step can be taken to pave the way for a better school system in years or decades to come. Right now, we have a multiple-stream school system, which includes national schools, vernacular schools, religious schools, vocational schools, international schools and private/independent learning centres. There should be a standardised way of managing multiple-stream schools so that students are not discriminated for graduating from different schooling backgrounds. In addition, language subjects like Mandarin, Tamil and Arabic should be introduced in national schools, allowing students from any ethnicity to learn these languages. This will not only foster unity, but also enrich the learning environment of national schools, which are populated by students of a single ethnic group;

REWRITE the History textbooks. Bring back the History lessons of the 1960s, which covered world history and civilisation. The history of a country should not be distorted and must be presented as how it happened, including true accounts of the Malay Archipelago and Asian civilisations. History redefines itself, so the achievements and national agendas need to be incorporated in history textbooks to recognise the sacrifices of people from all ethnicities;

AS the nation is gearing towards STEM education, let us be reminded of Mahatma Gandhi’s words: “Science without humanity is a sin”. Focusing on mechanistic solutions without reflecting on the human element, ethics and integrity would not bode well for the country’s progress. We do not want scientists to work in aloofness, but to be communicators of science and enhancers of “public understanding of science”. That is why, in some countries, STEAM is emphasised, that is incorporating arts in STEM. Our national agenda looks at increasing the enrolment of Pure Science students by 60 per cent. But, in our enthusiasm to produce 60 per cent of science graduates, we must not compromise on the entry requirements and passing grades of students in Science and Mathematics subjects;

TO ensure a fun learning environment, we must ensure that science laboratories in national schools are functional. Most schools do not have sufficient lab resources, chemicals and apparatus for students to carry out practical lessons and to comprehend science concepts through inquiry learning. This is an area that needs immediate attention;

RELOOK teachers’ workload. Every national school teacher would testify that his or her teaching hours are compromised by increasing administrative duties, meetings and hours spent keying in data in the Education Ministry’s websites. Perhaps, the government can designate new positions to assist teachers in administration. Dr Mahathir said the government would consider using new technologies and teaching software to assist teachers. While that is a welcome move, we need to be mindful that attempts to introduce 1BestariNet and Frog VLE were futile. The reasons for the failure need to be taken into account when introducing technology-based learning. Inputs need to be gathered from teachers and school heads at the grassroots level and not just officers from education departments;

OUR prime minister has always been vocal in emphasising the importance of English. We have gone through a decade of flip-flop policies, including the Teaching and Learning of Science and Mathematics in English (PPSMI), Upholding Bahasa Malaysia and Strengthening English (MBMMBI), Dual Language Programme and the Highly Immersive Programme. It is time leaders did not bow to political pressure, but did what was right to bring back the glory days when we conversed in English without undermining the national language;

THEintroduction of ICT and robotics in schools, with organisations coming forward to engage schools, is laudable. But, the question remains whether all schools are getting the same attention and benefits;

THE infrastructure of rural schools in the Peninsular, Sabah and Sarawak is a grave concern. Not to forget the teachers and students in remote areas who risk their lives to reach school every day;

RESEARCH in Science and Humanities will not take place if there isn’t enough research funding. In the last few years, public universities saw a drastic cut in the allocation of budget, which resulted in the termination of professors and freezing of recruitment. There needs to be a governing body to look into the allocation of budget to public and private universities for academics to pursue research in Science and Humanities subjects, and to collaborate with national think tanks; and,

IT is undeniable that disparity and inequality exist in education. The students in national schools do not get the exposure and learning facilities as the students in international schools. Similarly, we see students in private universities engaging in roundtable discussions, equipped with laptops, flipped learning and live streaming recordings, as compared with public university students, who sit in lecture halls and take down notes. Then, there is the issue of students with merit who are not given a place in local universities. The disparity and inequality in education need to be addressed for the nation to move forward.

This list is not exhaustive, and I am sure the teaching fraternity and academics would be able to come up with more robust recommendations.


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New learning needed

Tuesday, May 1st, 2018
Lee was invited as keynote speaker at the third Malaysia-Singapore Research Conference.

Lee was invited as keynote speaker at the third Malaysia-Singapore Research Conference.

THE new learning required is about how to learn all over again, with a totally fresh mindset, to be able to see things through new eyes and with a new way of thinking.

“Freeing our mental and emotional system, of most of the values we have been indoctrinated with, and which have distanced us from human need and solidarity to facilitate exploitation and greed.

“More importantly, in preparing for tomorrow, we need to ensure, that there is still a tomorrow!

“In order to achieve this, we need to break out of the limitations industrial society places on our horizons and learn from cultures and societies what it means to be sustainable.

Giving an example, Lee shares how as a student in the late 1970s, she wanted to study English Literature when she was placed in the science stream but was discouraged from doing so.

Back then, it was considered that school, the teachers and parents knew better and they had a say in what students could study and do.

“Many students today have a choice of choosing the subjects they want to study and designing their own degrees, one of my daughters is one of them.

“At Sunway University, in moving forward, we are in the midst of planning and creating a makerspace where students can come together to create, invent and learn with all kinds of tools complete with 3D printer made available to them.

The role of education and academia to impacting the real world, and fostering transdisciplinary outcomes, adds Lee, is to create opportunities, nurture and develop talents, and ensuring they have a future world left to live in.

Now while the main objective is to prepare her charges for their future, that future has changed.

“I’m now facing a whole generation and a half later, where technology has reshaped the way we live, work, learn and play.

Many call this the Fourth Industrial Revolution, where technology is ever prevalent because of its speed, breadth and depth that come with it.

“And we are all being impacted by it, be it positively or negatively, one way or the other.”

Lee was invited as a keynote speaker at the Third Malaysia-Singapore Research Conference in Cambridge, the United Kingdom earlier this month.

The other keynote speaker was Nanyang Technological University provost and vice president (Academic) Prof Ling San.

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Shaping education for future employment

Saturday, April 28th, 2018

The education landscape in Malaysia is changing with students using technology-based systems such as blended learning, distance learning and open online courses. FILE PIC

WITHOUT a doubt, our education system had been given a makeover with the advancement of technology.

The dilemma of how best to leverage technology to improve learning and produce a competent workforce is prevalent in institutions of higher learning to meet the national agenda.

Higher education systems worldwide are going through the same paradigm shift in view of the changing needs of students, expectations of society and the ever-evolving technology.

It has been predicted that most jobs today would be taken over by digitalisation and virtual mobility.

Employers’ expectations of employees have moved towards technology-savvy communication skills, which, in turn, demand higher learning institutions to provide such skills in graduates.

Clayton Christensen, Curtis W. Johnson and Michael B. Horn in their book, Disrupting Classroom: How Disruptive Innovation will Change the Way the World Learns, highlighted the important principles of futuristic learning, including customised learning for students, computer technology in student-centric classrooms, disruptive innovations to overcome learning roadblocks and competing in a global classroom.

These new approaches are unheard of in traditional classrooms. Thus, revamping our education system to achieve such goals so that learners become global players has become the Federal Government’s priority, as seen in the scope and depth of the Education Blueprint for Higher Education 2015-2025 in relation to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the Education 4.0 Framework.

In the few years of its implementation, transformation has taken shape and students are becoming accustomed to learning through technology-based systems, such as blended learning, Malaysian Open Online Courses and other online learning systems.

Last week, UiTM Johor launched its first digitalised international invention, innovation and design competition. This brings innovation competitions, currently held via exhibition booths, to a higher level as they will be held online. All that is required is the uploading of a three-minute video of the product demonstration.

The competition claims to be the first of its kind in Malaysia. It is open to international and local participants in the professional, tertiary and school levels. The competition, launched on April 19, will end on July 1. Enquiries can be made at

Going digital and transforming education, however, does mean that current jobs may soon become irrelevant to pave the way for new tech jobs.

By Associate Professor Dr Soo Kum Yoke.

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Education weapon to nation’s success

Thursday, March 22nd, 2018

THERE is mainstream acceptance that the core catalyst for the development of a nation is its “intellectual capital”.

It is key to a country’s transformation towards a “knowledge economy”. How effective a nation harnesses this intangible asset will determine the difference between success and failure.

According to PT People Power International president director Dr Suresh Marcandan, education in general ― tertiary education in particular ― is a great equaliser in societies.

He said education is the most potent weapon to alleviate poverty, as well as the reducing of crime and other social ills.

Higher education plays a crucial role in sustaining a nation’s competitive advantage.

“The Higher Education Ministry’s vision is to make Malaysia a centre for higher education excellence by 2020.

“However, a comparative analysis conducted by Universiti Sains Malaysia in 2016 found that when the three top public universities (University of Malaya, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia and Universiti Utara Malaysia) were compared with private and foreign universities in Malaysia, they were ‘inefficient in income generation and in managing inputs, which included the government operating grants’. They have become complacent.

“Education is the most potent weapon to alleviate poverty, as well as reducing crime and other social ills”, said Dr Suresh Marcandan, PT People Power International president director

“It is paradoxical that Malaysia spends almost five per cent of Gross Domestic Product on education, but has been ranked the fifth most expensive place to get a university education, relative to its household income.

“These statistics are worrying, and begs the question whether the Malaysian higher education sector is well-positioned to contribute towards the lofty vision of the ministry ― to identify, nurture, develop and retain talent to meet demands of a changing workplace landscape created by the ‘digital age’ and driven by innovations.

“In the context of higher education, the main areas of nation branding are intellectual capital and brain power, magnet for talent, country of origin effect and destination for aspiration.”

Marcandan was a guest speaker at the Jeffery Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia’s public lecture held at Sunway University recently.

His lecture was on whether the higher education sector is contributing towards the sustainable competitive advantage of Malaysia.


According to global interpretations, the purposes of higher education, among others, are to identify, nurture, develop and retain the best talent in the country; to be a catalyst for innovation by creating a conducive environment; and to turn students into thoughtful and interesting human beings.

But Marcandan asked what do the students want and what is the core business of a university. He questioned if the core purpose of higher education is to teach students in a holistic manner so that they could contribute to the good of society.

A 2016 survey done by IBM Institute of Business Value in the United States of America found that higher education provided more practical knowledge and applied educational experience in terms of critical-thinking approach, decision-making, problem-solving and creative skills.

Marcandan said the purposes of higher education, as defined by Murdoch University in Perth, Australia, was to build a nation human capital by developing and disseminating knowledge, education, research and independence as well as informed public commentary.

Also, he added, the purposes were to be a creative force for current and future generations as well as provide outstanding education so that every student would become an innovator prepared for their future careers.

“Not forgetting to provide life-changing solutions to complex world challenges, to be of service to society as well as to play a key role in the economic and social wellbeing of communities,” he added


A critique of the Malaysian higher education landscape was made claiming that phrases such as “education hub”, “innovation hub” and “knowledge economy” do not walk the talk.

The poor quality of academicians and a reward incentive system that discourages them from delivering high-quality teaching and research, are among the main factors.

Besides that, Marcandan said, merit was seldom used for recruitment, selection, continuing professional development, remuneration and rewards or career progression of staff.

“In addition, rewards and recognitions are based on disciplinary research, which is unrelated to the quality of teaching or learning.”

He added that poor government management of public education institutions was also a factor.

“In particular, excessive government control over their activities, such as lack of autonomy, merit in selection of staff and political interference, contribute to a lack of ability to transform.”

Malaysian universities need to make their presence felt and create impact in relation to the benefit of the community.

A John Hopkins University study this year stated that higher education institutions should put the philosophy back into the Doctor of Philosophy.

Based on the study, multi-disciplinary collaboration was vital as most doctoral curricula aimed to produce narrowly-focused researchers rather than critical thinkers.

“Most PhD curricula are unlikely to nurture big thinkers and creative problem-solvers that society needs. They are not viewing their work through the lens of social responsibility. They are unable to apply theoretical knowledge in statistical tests in laboratories. They make frequent mistakes in choosing an appropriate set of experimental controls and have difficulty in explaining work to non-experts.”


Marcandan said his parents taught him to never compromise on core values, such as honesty and integrity. They also said knowledge was appreciating as opposed to depreciating and education should be holistic.

“My passion was teaching and conducting applied research, but I could not pursue my passion as there was a wide gap between academic and practice, which was yet to be bridged.

“My title is Doctor of Business Administration, obtained after rigorous ‘applied research’ in the subject of ‘Translating Strategy into Action in the Aussie IT Industry’.

“I have years of experience as a chief executive officer.

“I was involved in running businesses, hence, I had no time to publish academic papers.

“My teaching experience was discontinued as I did it part-time while maintaining a full-time corporate job. Academics appeared to be intimidated by ‘corporate professors’ entering their ‘Ivory Towers’.

“But, it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. I was left with no choice but to become an entrepreneur, and went on to build multimillion-dollar businesses in Asia.”


What will kill the traditional higher education system? Marcandan said 10 to 15 years ago iPhones, Uber or Facebook did not exist.

However, many jobs would be done by intelligent machines in future and students would rely heavily on online search engines, lecture notes and recorded lecturers, including virtual and augmented realities (VR, AR). And Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs) are also gaining widespread recognition.

“How do we overcome this? We do it by improving the teaching and learning experience to ensure they (teachers) deliver what computers cannot,” Marcandan said.

“For example, improve apprenticeship, mentoring and working experiences, because adults learn best with and from each other in solving problems.

“We should remove barriers to entry by tech giants, such as Cisco, Intel, Google and

Microsoft, as these leaders of innovation should be allowed to enter the higher education market.”

rethink policies

“Institutions should run like a business enterprise by entrepreneurs, who make strategic investments that generate revenue streams and capital gain to derive additional income,” Marcandan said.

“Remuneration and rewards need to be linked to performance and delivering key performance indicators to reduce administrative ‘bloat’.

“Focus on applied research in collaboration with corporate entities as well as making research commercially viable, monetisable and of benefit to the society at large.”

He said higher education institutions should rethink their policies.

“Firstly, they should create a higher education lobby group that coordinates sector efforts and attracts philanthropy and endowments.

“Secondly, establish a merit-based system in all aspects of higher education as education should never be compromised by politics.

By Zulita Mustafa.

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Public assistance needed after fire damages Penampang school hostel

Monday, March 5th, 2018

Fire at the hostel.

KOTA KINABALU: The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin in Penampang is appealing to the public for assistance to help the 117 male students after their hostel was damaged by fire this morning.

Its Chairman Adelaide Cornelius said the boys were left with only the clothes on their back.

“What is in dire need at the moment are mats, mattresses, pillows, bed linen, clothes and shoes as well as things like toothbrushes, pails and towels,” he said when contacted by The Borneo Post.

According to Adelaide, the students are from Form 1 to Form 5 and are from all over the state as SMK Datuk Peter Mojuntin is a sports school.

There are also students who come from the interior areas of Sabah, he added.

“We are appealing to the public to help these students. They can contact me at 013-8845645 or Boniface Edwin Amir for futher details on what is needed. Alternatively those who wish to donate cash can do so to the PTA’s account at Alliance Bank. The bank number is 101230010009479,” he said.

Fire at the tw- storey building broke out at about 7.30am and firemen from the Penampang, Lintas and Kota Kinabalu rushed to the scene. They arrived at 7.39am and had the blaze under control by 8.07am.

It was put out at 9.02am, a statement from the State Fire and Rescue Services Department’s Operations Centre said.

According to the statement, a total of 53 firemen, four fire engines, two EMRS and four utility responded to the call for assistance.

by Nancy Lai.

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Teachers, students must have mutual respect in classroom

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
(File pix) Teaching and learning can take place only if there is discipline in the classroom. Pix by Muhammad Sulaiman

ACCORDING to a report, cases of parents lodging police reports against teachers are on the rise and are occurring almost every week.

Most of the reports involved disciplinary actions taken against their children by the teachers.

Reports were lodged for the simplest of reasons such as their children being scolded by the teachers.

Most of these cases do not warrant police intervention and can be resolved amicably in the school.

Parents need to understand that learning and teaching can take place only when there is discipline and mutual respect in the classroom.

No learning can take place if there is indiscipline.

When a child continuously misbehaves in class while a teacher is teaching, the teacher will have to discipline him.

There are many ways a teacher can discipline a child such as ordering him to stand up, reprimanding him, scolding him or tapping him on the shoulder.

Sometimes, the teacher may discipline the child beyond the permissible boundary if the child is difficult or relcalcitrant.

Parents who are unhappy with the mode of punishment should exercise restraint and approach the school principal to resolve the matter.

Sadly, some parents rush to the police station to lodge reports against the teachers.

Dragging teachers to court damages the integrity and honour of teachers.

Parents need to follow the standard operating procedure in dealing with teachers who may have abused their children.

Parents are not allowed to barge into the school and confront the teachers.

The unhappy parents should see the head teacher or principal, and make a formal complaint.

All parties will be heard and the principal will ensure that the mediation is done in an amicable manner.

If the teacher is wrong, he or she must apologise to the parents. If the child needs medical attention, the cost must be borne by the teacher.

If the child is wrong and deserves to be punished, the onus is on the parents to apologise to the teacher.


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Towards Holistic Education: Do Not Make Sending Children To Tuition Class A Trend

Monday, February 12th, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 (Bernama) — Sending children to tuition classes merely to see them getting good examination grades should not be adopted as a trend but instead, parents should look beyond their children’s academic excellence.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said parents should always talk to their children to enable them to identify their tendencies, abilities and real interest in school.

“Do not make sending children to tuition class as a trend. Discuss (with children) about it first and think whether it is considered as ‘needs’ or not,” she told Bernama here today.

She was commenting on the current trend where parents regarded good examination grades as a benchmark for their children’s intelligence and ability to succeed, hence, sending their children for tuition classes.

Elaborating, Noor Azimah said the obsession among some parents in filling up their children’s free time with tuition classes even at a young age could actually rob them of their childhood.

She said every child had his or her interests such as in sports, which parents should encourage their children to explore.

Echoing similar views was National Union of the Teaching Profession president Kamarozaman Abd Razak who said with the national education policy changing towards a holistic education, sending children to tuition classes for the sake of academic excellence was worthless.

“It is good if parents send their children to attend an extra class to improve their English or Islamic education. But it is better if parents spend their money in the PIBG (parents-teachers’ association) for the association to carry out activities that can hone students’ skills and character development,” he said.

By Syamsiah Sahat and Norhayati Mohd Akhir


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Charting the journey forward

Sunday, February 4th, 2018

The English Language Roadmap 2015-2025 is a “really inspiring” model which other countries should study, says Cambridge Assessment English (policy, projects and partnerships) director Dr Hanan Khalifa.

It’s an ambitious vision for the country’s future, giving every pupil a high level in both English and the national language.

“It’s easy for a government to set ambitious targets, but what’s special about the roadmap is that it includes a detailed, realistic plan for achieving these targets. It also covers the whole education system from primary and secondary to university, which is visionary,” she says.

Echoing her sentiments, Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) president Prof Dr S. Ganakumaran describes it as a positive step forward, saying goals, and targeted outcomes, are clearly stipulated in the strategic plan.

“But one of our education system’s biggest flaw is that we’re always doing things in a hurry, and expecting immediate results.

“Often, we launch a programme when we are ill prepared. We start a programme even before training the teachers, preparing the materials, and developing the assessment.

“We must reflect on our failed and abandoned projects, to learn how to do things better so that our education will have a progressive, and sustainable future,” he thinks.

Dr Surinderpal Kaur, the deputy dean of postgraduate studies at the Universiti Malaya Faculty of Languages and Linguistics, says the roadmap is good as it addresses what’s wrong with our system, and clearly sets the way forward.

“But we launched it before having all the infrastructure in place. So now we have to make some tweaks and be open to constructive criticism. Modifications are needed but it shouldn’t be anything major. No flip-flops or our education system won’t have sustainability and continuity.”

In August 2016, the Education Ministry launched the roadmap to continue enhancing English proficiency among teachers and students.

Focused on the country’s 40,000 English teachers, the roadmap is part of the implementation of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 to reform English Language education in the country.

In preparation for the roadmap’s implementation, master trainers and observers were trained on the CEFR by Cambridge English in 2016.

The roadmap uses the CEFR and was produced by the English Language Standards and Quality Council. The council is made up of a panel of experts and the director of Cambridge English’s English Language Teaching Centre.

A detailed analysis of English language learning in Malaysia, have been produced for the ministry, says Dr Hanan.

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Schools in Sabah urged to achieve KPIs

Thursday, February 1st, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Education Department director Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul urged schools in the state to boost efforts to achieve the five main Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) of its Integrated Development Plan this year.

The five focus areas which are contained in the department’s Integrated Development Plan from 2017 until 2019 are academic management, school management, teacher management, student management and service management.

As such, Maimunah urged Sabah schools to improve their leadership elements as it was crucial in ensuring that the KPIs were achieved.

“For academic management, we aim to increase the KPI for the minimum mastery level for the 2018 Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR) to 61 per cent compared to 55 per cent last year.

Meanwhile, for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM), we have set the state’s National Average Grade to 4.18 points and 2.80 ploints for the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) examination.

“For school management, we aim to improve Band 1 and Band 2 schools.

Among the numerous strategies implemented included ensuring that the general guideline for the task implementation of principals/headmasters is mastered and the execution of ‘Standard Kualiti Pendidikan Malaysia Gelombang 2’ (SKPMG2) is applied to all school management aspects,” she said in her speech during the department’s 2018 New Year Message event.

For teacher management, Maimunah said all schools in the state were required to fufill a basic quota of 90:10 as this year the department aimed 90 per cent of its teachers to be Sabahans.

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Malaysia To Co-host ‘Going Global’ Education Conference

Wednesday, January 31st, 2018

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia and the British Council will co-host ‘Going Global’, the world’s largest open education conference this May 2 to 4.

British Council Malaysia director, Sarah Deverall said the conference, to be held in the Southeast Asian region for the first time, would be participated by 75 countries worldwide.

“Malaysia is a natural choice of venue for this year’s ?Going Global’ with its strong global connections, growing reputation as a regional education hub, and as one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

“We are proud to be able to deliver this year’s conference with co-host, the Ministry of Higher Education Malaysia, and the ASEAN Secretariat as supporting partner,” she said after the soft launch of ‘Going Global’, here, today.

Since its inception in 2004, ‘Going Global’ has become an annual event alternating between the United Kingdom and major international cities, including Dubai, Miami and Cape Town.

With the theme ‘Global Connections, Local Impact: Creating 21st Century Skills, Knowledge and Impact for Society-Wide Good’, the topic will be discussed by various panellists across 40 sessions over three days.

Meanwhile, Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri ldris Jusoh said the theme was timely as it reflected the importance of establishing global connections in the higher education sector as the ministry was preparing to face the 4th industrial Revolution.


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