KUDAT September 10, 2012: Awareness among students in rural Sabah on their desire to attain higher education seems higher than initially expected.
The Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE) learnt this yesterday after concluding its ‘Jom Masuk U’ programme at the Malaysia Day Cultural and Education Festival in Kudat.
MOHE director-general Datuk Professor Dr Rujhan Mustafa said some 5,000 students flocked to the Kudat Sports Complex on Saturday to benefit from the programme.
“This is the first time the ‘Jom Masuk U’ programme was held outside Kota Kinabalu and I have to say the response was very encouraging.
“The programme was targeted at 12 schools in Kudat, but students from other districts also turned up.
“This showed that awareness on education in Sabah is high and students in rural Sabah are just as eager to seek higher education as those in urban areas,” said Dr Rujhan when met here yesterday.
The three-day programme, which started on September 7, helped students to better understand university enrolment procedures, while creating greater awareness among parents on the need to send their children for higher education.
The initiative to bring the programme to Kudat is also part of MOHE’s objective to reach unreachable students. It was MOHE’s first collaboration with a non-governmental organisation to conduct the ‘Jom Masuk U’ programme.
“The ‘Jom Masuk U’ programme is a one-stop centre for information for students, teachers and parents to better understand the related issues on attaining higher education.
“Questions about everything from student funding to intake information were answered at this programme.
“At the same time, we also encouraged students to enrol for technical education and vocational training (TEVT) programmes.
“Before this, students from Kudat had to drive three hours to attend the programme in Kota Kinabalu. Thanks to KDM Malaysia we were successful in bringing it to them as part of our efforts to reach the unreachable students in Sabah,” said Dr Rujhan.
Among the objectives of the programme (in general) is to increase the rate of university enrolments among students aged 17-23.
“At MOHE, our target is to attain a 50 percent university access rate for students in this age group.
“Currently, Malaysia is at 41-42 percent. We need to increase this to at least 50 percent by 2020, because this is the equivalent rate in most developed countries around the world,” said Dr Rujhan.
During the programme, students were informed and briefed on how to use the i-MAS-CU or Special Requirements Programme Review System in the universities.
This 100 percent on-line system (developed by the University Centre Unit-UPU) can be used to check the conditions of the programme offered at all universities in the country.
According to MOHE principal assistant director (Management of Student Admission Division), Muhammad Aznor Abd Aziz, the i-MAS-CU system has improved the application process by helping to eliminate common errors.
“In the past, students tend to make the mistake of applying for programmes which they are not eligible for. This caused a lot of confusion and frustration not only for students but also for those who process these applications.
“The i-MAS-CU helps to eliminate this error by proposing only eligible courses based on a student’s qualification,” said Aznor.
According to MOHE records, university enrolments increase by the year, while the rate of students being left in enrolments (due to common errors) is steadily declining.
Meanwhile on the education transformation plan (specifically for Sabah and Sarawak) announced by Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on Saturday, Dr Rujhan said MOHE would be involved in an overall outlook.
“There are certain elements in education that must be delivered at an early stage. Creativity and motivation are among them that need to be nurtured in students at a young age.
“Such as the case of English proficiency, students have only four years to do this at university stage. As such, creativity and motivation, like English, need to be emphasised more at primary and secondary levels.
“There is a need to come up with a system that is not just based on examination results, but rather, efficacy,” said Dr Rujhan.
For the record, the cost of acquiring higher education at public universities in in Malaysia is subsidised by the government, while procedures help MOHE to monitor the rates offered by private institutions.
“The government subsidises about 90 percent of the cost of education at public universities and other public higher learning institutions.
“Private institutions have the freedom to charge their own rates, provided they achieve the five star quality rating set by MOHE. Otherwise, we have the right to intervene,” said Dr Rujhan, while stating there is no intention to raise the cost for education at public institutions.