23rd June 2018
NEED FOR ACADEMIC REFORMATION
Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan (Patriot) fully supports Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik’s call in not renewing the tenures of vice chancellors and deputy vice chancellors who seem more to please the leadership of the previous corrupt administration than bringing up the standard of education in their universities. Patriot joins others in a belated praise for Tun Dr Mahathir’s government in deciding to do away with the National Professors Council.
Generally we have nothing to be proud of in the performance of our highly politicized public universities. To those in education field, it is common knowledge that plagiarism is rife in academia even though it is not publicly acknowledged. In some cases it is even condoned.
There are a number of factors contributing to plagiarism in academia. A common and convenient excuse is the availability of modern information technology where cut and paste becomes easy and done without attribution to the original author. The mushrooming of our institutions of higher learning into an education hub to attract thousands of students from the Middle Eastern countries, Africa and other third world countries, does not help but lower the standard of English which is necessary for writing essays and academic papers. A lackluster attitude to teach among academics, plus failure to instill integrity and honesty early towards students; all these led to a standard of education much to be desired.
Patriot still holds to the maxim that there are no bad soldiers, but only bad generals. Trained early in our military careers the principles of good leadership, there was no room for any mistake as casualties would be inflicted and lives would be lost.
In academia, if students are not doing well, the blame should be on the vice chancellor, lecturers, and those in top management. When vice chancellors work towards pleasing their political bosses, so do their heads of department, lecturers, and management staffs. Promotions are not based on merits, but on the strength of their obsequiousness to the vice chancellor.
The Malaysian Academic Movement (Gerak), which is Patriot’s esteemed collaborator, has submitted a comprehensive paper, Higher Education Reform in Malaysia, to the education minister. Patriot fully endorses the suggested reforms by Gerak. There are several and among the highlights are:
1. Restructure university administration. A university has no place for those only good at singing praises to the government. Membership of board of directors, university senate, and faculty heads needs review.
2. Abolish/amend laws that stifle academic freedom. The UUCA needs repeal. In place, an enactment of the Freedom of Information Act is necessary.
3. Widen access to higher education institutions.
4. Uphold meritocracy over ‘kulitocracy’.
5. Introduce creative pedagogy and alternative assessment practices.
6. Review academics’ key performance index (KPI).
7. Dissolve Majlis Professor Negara.
8. Provide a safe and inclusive working environment. This is against sexual harassment and prevent savage ragging to cause harm and even death.
9. Stop unethical academic practices – plagiarism, cheating, and academic bullying.
BG Dato Mohamed Arshad Raji (Rtd)
President, Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan