Worrisome state of education

Worrisome state of education

Date : 09 January 2021

Reported by : Roslan Bin Rusly

Category : News


I READ with great interest the article by Prof Dr Mohd Tajuddin Mohd Rasdi, “Searching for a needle in a haystack” (The Star, Jan 5; online at It was provocative, to say the least.

His message centred around his experience in interviewing 24 top university students, and his sad assessment that none of them were able to answer his set of four questions – his litmus test to determine if graduates have the qualities of being good citizens or even leaders of the nation.

All students were academically strong with a cumulative grade point average (CGPA) of 3.99 or 3.75, four being the highest.

His four questions were:

1. What book have you read in the course of your student life that changed some meaning or perspective about the world at large for you?

2. What lessons have you learned from a culture or faith other than your own?

3. What books would you like to read to improve yourself for a future you would like to see or have?

4. If you were to meet the prime minister or vice-chancellor for a one-on-one interview, what would you ask him or her to do for youth in a future Malaysia?

May the truth be told here: The dismal state of our graduates today is a clear reflection of the poor education they have been receiving from their lecturers and professors.

The teaching fraternity is entrusted to impart knowledge, facilitate learning and prepare our students for the world out there. But in reality, teachers complete their course outlines in a robotic fashion and leave students uninspired.

I also wondered how our university lecturers would fare if I were to put a modified version of these four questions to them. Do our university professors take the effort to learn from a culture or faith other than their own? Do our teachers read to improve themselves for a future they would like to help create?

Are our university lecturers interested and passionate about teaching students their different subjects in such a way that young minds can understand their relevance, are inspired to research, analyse their studies further and, most importantly, apply what they have learnt?

I recall my university days during which my Economics professor demanded that we show up in his class having read chapters of selected books and several topics on current affairs. He found ways to inspire us to read and analyse socio-political and economic problems Malaysia was facing then and also global challenges. He kept pushing us to our limits until reading and thinking critically became a habit.

Based on my conversations with students and others employed in the education industry, I have realised that it is indeed difficult to find quality lecturers. It is like searching for a needle in a haystack.

Bright students do become disillusioned and learn to find inspiration elsewhere. They become resourceful and find “gurus” on other platforms to mould their minds.

I know some who chanced upon a retired professor who still has passion to teach, and he encourages students to attend his casual lectures or volunteer at the NGO he has established.

It is tragic when I observe students who have skills that are in dire need of development. Their university education left them with just paper qualifications, which do not reflect real abilities or depth in training.


International Islamic University Malaysia