KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia has not only become an importer, but an important exporter in world education, as well, says Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The prime minister said last year, Malaysia had over 135,000 international students from about 160 nations, studying in its public and private higher education institutions, as well as international schools.
Malaysia had also succeeded in setting up 20 public universities, a host of tertiary colleges and hundreds of private institutes of higher education, including branch campuses of renowned world-class universities, he said in his speech at the launch of Alma Education Foundation here yesterday.
His speech was read by Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Razali Ibrahim.
Najib said: “However, in spite of this, and our policy of sending students abroad, we still need to build up our expertise further as a nation. That is why the policy is ongoing.”
“Last year, the number of Malaysian students studying abroad was around 90,000, with about 30 per cent sponsored by various government-linked agencies and corporations, including Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), Public Service Department, Petronas, Central Bank of Malaysia, Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Khazanah Nasional Berhad (Khazanah) and Sime Darby.”
He said many were outstanding young people who had won places at the world’s finest places of learning, and many Bumiputra had been the product of Ivy League and top universities such as Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the United States, Oxford and Cambridge Universities in London.
“All these are proof that the NEP (New Economic Policy), through more than 120 MRSM (Maktab Rendah Sains Mara) and SBP (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh) and hundreds of state residential and selected schools, has succeeded in generating a new Malay elite.
“Today, GLCs (government-linked companies) such as Khazanah, PNB and Petronas, and financials giant such as JP Morgan and Credit Suisse, KPMG and PWC (PricewaterhouseCoopers) have hundreds of Bumiputera professionals who are helping Malaysia to realise high income and developed nation status,” he said.
Najib also felt proud that Malay engineers were responsible for the construction of the Makkah Royal Clock Tower in Saudi Arabia, one of the highest buildings in the world.
“I was also proud that a Malay was part of the team that won a NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) competition to design vehicles for Mars. We were proud when a Malay was appointed a fellow and lecturer in Islamic Studies at Oxford University,” he said.
Najib said before the launch of the NEP in 1970, Bumiputera students had been left far behind in Malaysia’s own universities.
“In that year, for instance, University Malaya had only one Bumiputera pursuing engineering, and a mere three in the medicine faculty,” he noted.
Alma Foundation was incorporated in 2010 as a non-profit organisation initiated by the Malay Alumni of North America Universities to raise funds, donations, grants and contributions to enhance educational opportunities for potentially deserving Bumiputera students, graduates and other related individuals.
The foundation hopes to raise funds up to not less than RM300 million annually.