Education in an International Context
Asia has long been an avid student of the West, and for almost a century and a half, students from all over Asia have traveled abroad in search of the best education and training to plant the seeds of new technology, knowledge and ways of living and working in order to improve living conditions in their home countries. Foreign teachers have traveled to train Asians at home and to advise nations on building teaching facilities and systems based on Western models. Furthering educational goals remains a basic premise of cultural exchange and international relations.
For Malaysia, the pace of modern Western learning has accelerated since the country's independence from British colonial rule following WWII. The nation realized early on that it could not modernize and raise the standard of living of its citizenry on its own in isolation. Multinational corporations established operations in Malaysia employing and training locals. Technology transferred from abroad, Malaysian researchers, educators and students traveled overseas, foreign advisers were invited to positions in Malaysian institutions and facilities.
The goals of higher education in Malaysia are aligned with those of other peaceful nations of the world: to advance the economic development of the nation, to improve the lives of its citizenry, to promote greater cultural understanding between people and regions of the world, and to further the boundaries of all academic disciplines.
Education Improves Lives
Education and training are the means to inform and positively guide a nation's prospects for the future as each worker learners to creatively solve problems, perform higher technical jobs or manage several projects and teams. By investing in education, a line worker, a staff member, a manager upgrades his skills and know-how to accumulate greater responsibilities and increases his income. Training provides the work force with the necessary technical and managerial skills required by employers. The individual and society which invest in education pave the way for a more promising future and improve the life conditions of the family and the citizenry. Education and training enables the son of an unskilled laborer in a remote village to become a crane operator at a high-rise construction site or a crew leader at an electronics manufacturing plant or a paralegal or a government-appointed magistrate.
Education Must Also Change over Time
As change alters the fabric of society, the needs of society change and so too, do the roles and skills needed for high-technology, emerging industries to gain traction and move forward. The lifeblood of any nation which continues to develop and raise its standard of living is its education system, and for the individual the need for continuing education is just as vital. As jobs fall to economic downturns and cycles, and traditional industries and manufacturing give way to the rising industries of the future, the skills and knowledge learned twenty years ago may be less relevant today. The need to consistently reinvest in the education and training at both the personal and national levels is essential for growth and survival.