Reshaping 12MP in a Madani plan
Emeritus Professor Tan Sri Dato' Dzulkifli Abdul Razak
Opinion - New Straits Times
February 13, 2023
SINCE the bold decision taken by the higher education minister to shift the higher education mindscape, much thought has to be given to the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) mid-term review.
In fact, a new mapping is necessary based on the "new" dimensions introduced recently by the prime minister and the higher education minister. First, the concept of "madani" with respect to education given its six elements of SCRIPT, namely sustainability, care and compassion (sejahtera), respect, innovation, prosperity and trust.
Quite obviously the aspect of sustainability must be the centre of not only madani but the 12MP thrust forward as part of the strategic initiatives to transform Malaysia into a madani nation.
Second, embracing sejahtera as a platform to operationalise sustainability towards a human-centric focus, in tandem with the three "highs" of arts/culture, technology/machines, and touch/values-based in nurturing a madani person.
Third, the delivery of quality learning that is life-long, holistic and integrated as the outcome of madani education. The three dimensions resonate well with the new mindscape or vision of the ministry, viz; quality higher education, insan par excellence, as well as a sejahtera nation within the context of Malaysia.
Overall, it gives rise to the unique model of human governance, so different and alien from the "industrialised" so-called corporate governance that is being voluntarily adopted by all institutions of (higher) education, intentionally or otherwise, not forgetting the parent ministry at the same time.
It is generally assumed that institutions of education function like a factory as fashioned by the industrial revolutions since the 18th century in western Europe, at once acting as a "colonising" force in erasing the character, values and virtues of budi, adab and, ultimately, insan sejahtera.
In its place the human capital theory creeps in insidiously resulting in an inhumane or dehumanised form of education without soul. Again, the prime minister made mention of the impact of neoliberalism that ought to be reconsidered in his essay in "SCRIPT - For a better Malaysia", last year.
All these describe the current gaps that must be addressed during the 12MP review, indeed even the Higher Education Blueprint (2015-2025), two years from now.
The apparent deficit in Chapter 10 in the 12MP, relating to future human talents vis-a-vis the overall madani concept as illustrated above, must be tackled.
One such outstanding item that stood out relates to the insistence for another public university to be listed in the top 100 QS World University Rankings! Foremost, why is the commercial vendor identified to start off with? It is the "best" ranking option there is, knowing full well there are many others in the race the world over?
In other words, who ranks the rankers In ensuring the relevance and appropriateness to the local institutions of education at the very least. Of course, the whole exercise of "ranking" has been seen as a commercial construct that has been the subject of several controversies worldwide from the onset without much attention.
Not until lately, when the last few nails were hammered into the ranking coffin. It comes about with the withdrawal of several respected universities, including Harvard, Yale and Stanford, from one of US's most noted and established rankers.
Much can be read into this, notably given the pandemic's impact that has exposed the ugly underbelly of the ranking game, as it has been critically perceived. Seemingly, the game is coming to an end. No so-called "world class" university, or school, for that matter is able to rise above the pandemic's onslaught to qualify as a class above.
In fact, some of those fared much worse in terms of all-around impact. Un-madani to say the least, if not straightened up soon!.
The writer, an NST columnist for more than 20 years, is International Islamic University Malaysia rector