Reading Bakri Musa’s column in Malaysiakini, I had have to highlight what we both agree to, that we should not use national resource to pay for the foreign education of our undergraduates.
It is not some strange local sentiment, just economics.
There are millions of Malaysians looking forward to university education, and we have echoed that we need to get our local universities to top standard so that they can serve these new kids. As it has been said before, it cost many times more to pay for one student’s education overseas than it is to educate them locally.
Keep the money locally and you can educate more kids. Keep the money locally and you can let the Malaysian economy benefit from your educational expenditure. Keep the money locally and you give legitimate incentive for local universities to improve themselves. Keep the money locally, and you are going to create a more vibrant university culture since our brightest will stay in our campuses and breed local intellectualism.
Let it not be forgotten that we started the culture of foreign education out of necessity not for display.
The old straits educated kids had to move to Singapore for secondary education, and then abroad. When we had enough local secondary schools, after the first secondary school in the Victoria Institution, we sent our brighter kids to Singapore for pre-university training before going to the old country (Britain). And when there was University Malaya, the majority of our graduates came from there.
The vast majority of the ministers who graduated before the 70s went to University Malaya. And in ten years time, the majority of people in the cabinet will be from the old 10 big local universities.
Our culture of sending people overseas was something we did because we did not have universities locally. Sending them still using national resource is an affront to our universities.
Let me qualify. I do believe there is merit in sending locals for post-graduate studies as they are more research intensive.
However this cannot be done at the expense of local universities. They must be the exception.
At one go you are able to end the Public Services Department furore over getting scholarships for all Malaysians.
Malaysians who want to pay their own way or get scholarships from universities/companies/trust funds can do so.
If there specific programmes that are unavailable in Malaysia then we can send people overseas, especially for language programmes.