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Follow S'wak's initiative to set up own varsity: Jeffrey

Published on: Wednesday, June 04, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Government needs to sit up and take pro-active action to set up its own Sabah State University following the Sarawak Government's initiative in setting up the University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS), said Star Sabah Chief Datuk Dr Jeffrey Kitingan.

The Sarawak government needs to be commended for taking the bull by its horns and stepping up by establishing its own tertiary institution and not waiting for the Federal Government to return the education portfolio to State control, he said.

Dr Jeffrey was commenting on Sarawak's additional RM64 million infrastructure allocation to set up an IT library, indoor stadium and science and technology park in UCTS campus in Sibu.

The UCTS comes after Sarawak's own technical institutes to better prepare young Sarawakians with better vocational and technical skills.

"It's the implementation of the philosophy of teaching one how to fish rather than giving a fish.

"There is no higher price and no greater sacrifice that ensuring that young Malaysians receive the best education possible. Education equips them with a lifelong knowledge.

"But, what is more important is that the Sarawak government is taking charge of educational institutions free from interference by the Federal Government.

"At the same time, the Sarawak government can ensure that Sarawakians, especially their natives, are not deprived of educational scholarships and opportunities that are denied them by the federal policies that should have no place in the Borneo states where local natives should be given priority," he said in a statement, Tuesday.

Dr Jeffrey said despite claims by Ministers and the Federal Government that the Malaysian education system is one of the best in the world, the failures of the system are evident everywhere.

"Malaysian students are faring worse than many Third World countries judging from recent PISA results where Malaysia was ranked number 52 out of the 65 countries polled.

"As highlighted by the recently released World Bank Report on education in Malaysia, the over-emphasis and centralised control of education had resulted in a decline in education standards caused by bottlenecks and bureaucracy," he said.

Dr Jeffrey said in order to arrest the falling standards and the decadence of education in Sabah and Sarawak, both state governments need to take back education under their wings before it is too late.

"There is also a need to localise due to differences and unsuitability of curriculum due to local circumstances.

For instance, Bajau, Kadazandusun and many local mother tongues are spoken in Sabah but not in the peninsula," he said.

"The Sabah government needs to adopt a holistic approach to safeguard the young in Sabah from falling victims to a declining education system in Malaysia.

"For a start, the Sabah government can take over some of the existing polytechnics and universities as well as upgrade the Timbang Menggaris Agriculture Institute to be the Sabah Agro-forestry University and produce skilled agro-entrepreneurs and skilled graduates," he said.