KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 3 — The individual who will assume the role of the next education minister does not necessarily have to be a politician, said Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman, Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim.
An individual who is not a politician but has great concern on educational issues could also be considered, she added.
Noor Azimah is of the view that a non-politician should assume the position in order to give full attention in empowering the national education system.
She said the person appointed for the position need not be from the education field but must be one who would always fight in the interest of students and teachers with a clear direction to ensure the quality of education is on par with international standards.
Citing an example, she said Tan Sri Musa Mohamad was the first person to be appointed as the education minister in 1999 though he was not a politician, adding that this would allow the person to make bold decisions without any political influence.
“The problem now is when the education minister is a politician the individual will have to balance his role in championing the country’s education system and his tasks as a politician. Any decision made involving the education sector will affect the individual’s political career.
“In other words, sometimes the decision made is not focused on students, but whether, the decision made will be politically suicidal to the person’s career or not,” she told Bernama.
Noor Azimah said this when asked to comment on the key attributes of the new education minister to replace Maszlee Malik, who announced his resignation effective January 3 after helming the ministry for 20 months.
Meanwhile, Universiti Putra Malaysia Faculty of Education lecturer, Prof Madya Wan Marzuki Wan Jaafar said the education minister should be an educationist at heart with a clear vision of the future of education in the country.
“The individual must be charismatic in introducing changes and making continuous improvement in the quality of education that can ultimately lead to a knowledgeable and prosperous society,” he added.
Joint Councils of Presidents and Honorary Secretaries of the Malaysian Universities Staff Union (Gakum) president Zulkifli Mohamad in sharing Wan Marzuki’s views said, apart from having a background in education, the individual must have close ties with educational institutions by going down to the ground to see the needs of schools especially in the rural and remote areas.
A former lecturer at Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris (UPSI) Professor Emeritus Dr. Othman Lebar said the person helming the Education Ministry must have the determination to enhance the national education system and improve teachers’ professional abilities.
He said that is the basic requirement towards the development of the national education system in line with Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025.
“I feel the successor needs to have the knowledge and experience related to international education because we lack the ability to internationalise our education system.
“As such the person should have a comprehensive plan on how to improve the quality of the education in line with international standards,” said Othman who was formerly from the Education and Human Resource Development Faculty. — Bernama