MALAYSIA’S UNDER-QUALIFIED GRADUATES – THE GOOD ONES WILL FLEE, ONLY THE MEDIOCRE & BELOW STAY?

Numerous PhD holders of today can’t even write an original paragraph intelligibly or speak proper English, but they end up teaching their under-graduates and post graduate students. Many have also made their way into politics to make a living and to shape the country’s future.  

Some of these PhD holders have been caught not being able to spell simple words in English. Even a common word such as “condolence” can be spelt as “condelence.” Some others speak atrocious English but can be seen having inter-government discourse in English to national and international English-speaking audience just because they are forced to do so as politicians. By itself, they become red-faced throughout their speeches as their language blotches would draw reprehensible giggles from the audience.

The real setback can be found in the local educational institutions as well as in some Third-World countries where students pursue their study. When our graduates are unable to secure jobs in many of the private sector companies, one begins to wonder as to why this should happen. Aren’t there enough jobs for our graduates or is it because they are not qualified enough to be employed? Or, they are not taught well enough by some of our under qualified teachers and professors.  Some may ask why are many of those who have done religious study at local and foreign universities not employed in the private sector.

Unemployment

Many of our IT, social science and even graduates in the sciences, for instance, are unemployed or doing jobs that do not commensurate their qualifications. If they cannot make it within the country they would, theoretically, find it much tougher to survive in the global market. Unemployment or being under-employed, in consequence, has become a trademark of many of our undergraduates, partly because of their poor command of English and basic subject knowledge. In some cases, their degrees give no added-value in the private sector economy.

And of course, with the economic stalemate the country is facing and the prevailing lack of job opportunities due to ineffectual economic management, unemployment rate has risen drastically. The bloated civil service with 1.8 million employees cannot absorb these graduates anymore.  On the other hand, some employers in the private sector are lamenting that our graduates are not resourceful, creative and functional enough to survive in a challenging working environment.

In a way, these employers are right. The mode of strait-jacketing our students at the school and university levels only reminds us of the art of “conformism”  in the traditional school teaching where students are trained just to listen and accept what their instructors pass on to them – involving very little interactive or persuasive skills. They are rarely made to think out of the box for fear that  students may argue, debate and end up asking too many questions that are against the instructors’  set norms, or religious convictions – in the case of religious study.

Indoctrination

This rhetorical mode of teaching has, to a certain extent, failed to produce graduates with an inquisitive mind or the thinking-type that are willing to be critical and explore more on any topic of learning. They only end up being programmed or proselytised and having the phobia to ask questions and go beyond what has been put into them. Despite the many hours spent on courses, seminars, training and remedial work for those who lack these attributes, many have failed to acquire the desired decisive skills and progressive culture in education.

Added to this set of symptoms is their inability to brave themselves to express their ideas and opinions of their own. Cut and paste, plagiarism and group thinking are the distinctive features seen in the work of our graduates.

Even doctoral theses can be seen with cut and paste stuff. Many are so bad in English that they cannot even string a simple sentence together correctly. They do not even have the proper skills to paraphrase academic work of others.  The best they resort to is copying or plagiarising what others have already produced. This is regurgitated into class assignments as well as in theses up to the highest level.

There are numerous PhD holders in the local universities who cannot even write a paragraph of original stuff intelligibly and speak English legibly and yet they are teaching our graduates using this medium of instruction.  They seldom go beyond the stuff they have copiously written in their dissertations to improve themselves. One wonders how, in the first place, they have managed to get through their study and obtain degrees.

To add salt to injury, void of quality papers and publications, some of these academics are given the title of ‘professor’ merely to meet the number or in some cases to meet a certain quota.

Unimaginative

All this ineptness is a telling sign that the quality of our education is at stake. Many of our students are just exceptionally good at rote learning but not qualitative learning. They are apt to remembering notes and spewing them up them during exams. Beyond this, they are passive and unimaginative.  They are good at rehearsing facts but lack the skills to apply knowledge and think from out of the ordinary view points on any subject. These students, on the other hand, are seldom rewarded for their ability to think creatively or for their unconventional standpoints.

This is, unfortunately, the setback in our educational system and it is stiff and tough for students to avoid these adverse symptoms right from the primary to the tertiary levels. There is a void of meaningful engagement analysis, independence of thought and support for students to think individually and to accept different ideas and opinions.

The educational system should reward those who are truly au fait, ingenious and inspired and not those who wholly subscribe to the convention of lackadaisicalness, copying, plagiarising and memorising notes from books and then churning them out in paper assignments and exams just to earn a degree.

Those teaching these graduates should have ample and indubitable experience and qualifications that are at par with those in the developed world and some developing countries. Employ these people based on true capability before our educational system becomes a laughing stock – even among the many other progressing developing countries in our region.

Religious study

The failure for students to think and become critical is conspicuously seen among students in the social sciences, especially in religious studies. Graduates in religious studies – both local and foreign – are strait-jacketed, indoctrinated that they end up becoming conformists and never want to accept views and opinions of others.  This has to some extent bred intolerance and radicalness among graduates of this discipline.

Among them it has caused a culture of dogmatism, narrow-mindedness and intolerance and worse still many are jobless; some will take the convenient steps to go into politics to shape the minds of the people with their mode of thinking.  

Such is the pathetic situation of education these days.

Moaz Nair

– MAIL BAG

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