High expectations for second-time Higher Education Minister Khaled

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2022 12 06 liputan media 01

Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin speaking to the media upon arrival at the ministry in Putrajaya yesterday. -BERNAMA PIC

Source: New Straits Times

With the swearing-in of the unity cabinet, the higher education portfolio saw a familiar face. Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin has been appointed as the higher education minister for the second time. He first served as higher education minister from 2008 to 2013.

Many, however, were surprised that the Education Ministry was not merged under one umbrella. Be that as it may, having an experienced minister reduces the learning curve, and also eases communication and consultation in arriving at a unified position.

Attention must be given to the higher purpose(s) of education.For example, the (Higher) Education Blueprint (2015-2025) would include the six student aspirations as well as the five system aspirations agreed to by all parties. There are just two more years to go, what with the state of education today due to the Covid-19 pandemic. How will the post-pandemic report card look like?

Another are the targets set out in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP, 2021- 2025). The 14 game-changers include economic enhancing national security and unity for nation-building; improving the technical and vocational education training ecosystem to produce future-ready talent; and aligning research and development with commercialisation, wealth generation and economic growth.

This is not to say that the rest are not important. Featured as one of the four catalytic policy enablers, developing future talents is a priority to form the foundation and building blocks of Malaysia's development by 2025 and beyond.

Topping all this is the aspiration for the Shared Prosperity Vision (SPV) 2030, which needs to be aligned with the Agenda 2030 Sustainable Development Goals (2016-2030) advocated by the United Nations. Specifically, it is about advancing green growth for sustainability and resilience. Khaled achieved three achievements during his first tenure.

First, the Accelerated Programme for Excellence (Apex) from 2007 to 2008.

This programme was to address the future of education. In this case, a sustainability-led university was envisaged that was ahead of its time by a least a decade. This experience could serve as a guide to meet the aspirations of the 12MP, for instance.

Secondly, he is credited for establishing the National Higher Education Leadership Academy in 2007, which provides training to potential academic leaders. One of its modules relates to the Qalb (heart)-guided leadership.

It is homegrown and customised to suit the needs and peculiarities of local higher education. The module in particular, and the academy in general, has harnessed a unified educational ecosystem that is driven by values framed by SPV.

Aptly, the academy's tagline is "Shaping Minds, Building Leaders". Thirdly, is the handling of the National Higher Education Research Institution, a research arm of higher education.

Though set up in 1997, it was under Khaled's watch that it launched the Global Higher Education Forum in 2007 to reach out internationally. It became a sought-after event where academics met to exchange ideas and experiences to shape education.

This led to Malaysia becoming more visible among its peers. The forum is supported by the academy to lead education.

These are but the tip of the iceberg about what is possible for education under an enlightened and bold leadership. Much awaits higher education if it is professionally and conscientiously led.

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