Numerous articles have been written in the Malaysian press and education journals within the last two years on a common matter of grave concern – the widening gap in education disparity today.
The unbalanced development especially at the tertiary education level has not only blocked the realization of public interest and equity of education but also restricted the harmonious social and economic development of Malaysia and countries worldwide.
In this respect, education has been hailed as the sharpest tool for poverty eradication and moderating income inequality and thus commands utmost attention.
Education also plays an imperative role in bridging divides in member countries at both national and regional levels and its system must also be continuously strengthened and tested for its relevance to ensure sustainable growth (Badawi, 2008)
To compound the matter further, globalization today has become a major force in altering competition and the effects of globalization has seen countries becoming more integrated socially, politically, economically and technologically. The effect of globalization has placed a tremendous pressure for new knowledge and skills and this is challenging our traditional higher education system. Higher education sector in Malaysian is thus compelled to cater for another important target community, the non school leavers.
2.0 OBJECTIVES OF PAPER
The term education in this article refers to the process that is used to impart knowledge in a formal environment such as schools, colleges and universities. This formal form of education is the means by which people are socialized to conform to the needs and norms of a particular society. Human capital refers to acquired education, skills and knowledge from the formal educational system (Loomis, 2000).
An important characteristic of the formal education today is a curriculum that is designed to impart specific knowledge from a rather rigid education system that lacks flexibility. This rigid education system has marginalized students with lesser than acceptable entry qualifications from furthering their studies. In other words, education is not neutral and thus skewed towards conventional worldviews and development paradigms to the neglect of all other paradigms.
This paper is proposing a radical educational system that recognizes the importance of providing an accessible education to all levels of society. It is the hope of the author that this article will contribute to a global educational reform that seeks to harness all the global human capital via an accessible education system.
3.0 Higher Education and the Pressure to Change
In view of the widening education disparity and the need to confront the pressing needs of non school leavers, higher education institutions have to radically reshape their conventional positions. The current education system practiced worldwide would require prospective students to achieve an acceptable grade levels at the O levels or A levels before admission to universities are granted. Additionally the students are entered into structured programs with preselected modules that need to be completed at various levels before a degree can be accorded. This system is much criticized as:
Students with lesser qualifications than O levels are not considered admissible by university standards.
Students who have not achieved acceptable entry qualifications of universities are not provided an alternative pathway for tertiary enrollment.
The present education system is very much structured in the selection of modules leaving prospective students to enroll in modules which do not cater to their needs.
Many stakeholders in higher education are finding it difficult to align academia’s traditional, and even venerable, mission and methods with the industries requirement.
Innovation and Creativity is stifled in the current traditionalist education system as students are not afforded much flexibility in choosing modules according to their field of interest.
With the major changes observed in the labour markets, the education system in Malaysia needs to take a radical approach and undergo a metamorphosis in educational development. A litany of doubts has been raised in the literature on the traditional education but the task of defining the concept of education should be approached in a radical fashion if the education disparity is to be overcome.
4.0 Innovating the Definition of Accessible Education
Institutions of higher education currently face an extraordinary array of demographic, economic, political, and cultural pressures. These pressures on our current education system require a radical approach towards innovating our education system’s accessibility. Many prospective students are unable to access tertiary education today due to the rigidity of our education system.
In view of this matter, this paper proposes the merging of work experience and skill based learning to establish a socio-economic creditable education system comparable to programs available in the formal university education system. In this radically reengineered education system, the programs and courses are tailor suited to the demands and needs of the laggard learner. The Limkokwing University through its new education model combines industry capability and academia to facilitate the shift from formal textbook learning to an apprenticeship based education.
5.0 Contextualizing And Rationalizing The Limkokwing Apprenticeship Program – A Catalyst to Human Capital Development
Limkokwing University will pioneer the forefront of education development and innovation in order to meet the emerging needs of a new century (Duke, 1992; Robertson,1993, 1994; Sargant, 1991; SEEC, 1996a,b).
The Limkokwing Program is an integrated program designed to assist in the development for an overview of a business environment and equip students with the necessary knowledge to effectively manage and enhance their competencies within an organization. By merging practical on job experience and Limkokwing’s skills based learning methodology, students can graduate with not just the technical know-how but real life application of classroom teaching. Graduates of a complete apprenticeship program will be able to access the industry and posses the skills to create new business opportunities. Limkokwing University will be the first and only university to address the government initiative to retrain the society with new skills, hone skills to create new creative content businesses.
6.0 Radical Reorganization of Current Education System
The Limkokwing radical model which could be far more effective than the interdisciplinary rubric will see a reorganization of the current education system. Classes studying different disciplines would engage in collaborative projects (for instance business, information systems, architecture design and communications etc.) even as they also allocated most classroom time to the pursuit of the particular course subject. Hands-on learning laboratories would be a part of every course and the exploration of materials, cognition, and perception that is a feature of every creative hotbed, stimulates the mind; enriches understanding of a subject area; broadens the vistas of research; helps integrate imagination, intuition, and analytic functions; and tends to generate a strong rapport within the learning community. Faculty and students might also work towards broader goals than only learning the course material, such as developing applications in the local community or simulations that illuminated some real-life challenge. Global connections with outside experts, students in other universities, and an array of social projects with internet communication capabilities could also be integrated into the course, which could lead to a range of innovative partnerships among institutions. The innovative elements of the Limkokwing Education Model is illustrated in the Figure 4.0 below.
7.0 Delivery Methodology
The unique feature of the Limkokwing Program is that the assessment is based on workplace assignments. Hence participants gain the skills and knowledge that is immediately applicable to their workplace and organizations benefit directly from the solutions that their employees work on.
Empirically conducted studies have revealed that young workers are the largest number of the labour workforce without employment. Currently, young workers seem to be in a situations where unemployment are higher among them with social problems and are employed in unskilled/semiskilled job with low wages and depressing working conditions with the higher possibility of retrenchment. In this respect, governments worldwide needs to provide this sector with the necessary skills and knowledge to help them upgrade themselves.
In this respect, Malaysia needs an educational revolution and not just educational reform if the country is to become a genuine international centre of educational excellence which provides quality education at all levels of its education, whether for Malaysians or to global citizens. This paper argues for an inclusive accessible and flexible educational system that takes into consideration the individuals work experience as an admission for a tertiary degree. Students are provided with the flexibility of choosing modules of their preferences and conducting work site based assignments under this new curriculum. This education system will propel Malaysia to move forward to ensure that access to universal education continues to be available especially to all sectors of the society.
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