Strengthening private education services

The Education National Key Economic Area (NKEA) focuses on strengthening private education services sector by increasing private consumption and investments as well as expanding education export. According to the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) report by Pemandu, the vision was to rebrand Malaysia from a stopover location for education to a major education centre of choice and pivotal hub in the global education network.

“We envision a 2020 where education is a big business that delivers significant, widespread and sustained GNI impact, while raising standards and widening access.

“Only then will Malaysia be able to develop the first-world talent base that it need,” said the report which was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak here today.

The Education NKEA was targeted to raise total gross national income (GNI) from RM27.1 billion in 2009 to RM60.7 billion by 2020. As public sector growth was expected to be limited, the aim requires private education sector to grow six-fold and that would need RM20 billion in funding over the next 10 years, of which only six per cent constitutes new public funding.

In achieving this, an additional 535,000 jobs will be created, with the majority of them in professional and technical fields and to triple foreign student enrolment from around 70,000 currently to 200,000 by 2020. “Beyond the GNI impact, we envisage that the private education sector will have a strong impact on our nation’s socio-economic development, through multiple education touch points.

“As such, we see the private education sector as playing a critical complementary role to the public sector in delivering the education outcomes and government objectives laid out in the National Key Results Area (NKRA) on Education,” the report said.

To deliver these targets, four education segments have been prioritized, based on existing market size and potential for future growth: tertiary education (both domestic and foreign students), technical education and vocational training (TEVT), basic education (primary and secondary) and early child care and education (ECCE).

A total of 13 entry point projects (EPP) have been developed across four segments based on their GNI impact and potential to catalyze further business opportunities and investments that are expected to raise overall education standards (defined in terms of improved access, quality and equity), create transformational rather that incremental change and deliver significant results within a 10-year time frame.

These EPP fall into three themes – rapid scale-up initiatives including, scaling up early childcare and education centres, improving early childcare and education training centres, boosting international schools, expanding private teachers’ training, scaling up private skills training provision and expanding international distance learning.

The report said that the government would need to encourage existing providers to increase capacity, or make it easier for new providers to enter the market and at the same time, need to maintain high quality standards and prevent crowding out the existing providers.

Secondly, concentration and specialisation initiatives include building an Islamic finance and business education discipline cluster, building a health science education discipline cluster, building an advanced engineering, science and innovation discipline cluster, building a hospitality and tourism discipline cluster, launching EduCity at Iskandar Malaysia.

“One of our challenges is the wide variation in quality, particularly at the tertiary level where industry linkages are critical. Best practice examples from countries in comparable situations suggest that a way forward lies in the development of integrated networks of institutions across one or more phases of the education value chain,” the report said.

Thirdly, demand generation initiatives must include championing Malaysia’s international education brand and introducing public-private partnerships in basic education — aimed to significantly increase individual willingness to pay for high-quality course offerings as well as to export education by developing Malaysia as a regional education hub.

There are significant opportunities across the education sector to substantially increase individual willingness to pay for high-quality course offerings as well as to export education by developing Malaysia as a regional education hub.

The Education NKEA also outlined some critical targets and milestone within six to 12 months to achieve the target to strengthen the private education services sector such as off-take agreements with ECCE training centres signed, 1,000 additional seats in international schools created, gateway distance education university with first intake of students established.

Other targets are disciplined clusters with first intake of students for Islamic finance and business education, health services, advanced engineering and hospitality and tourism established, two new institutions in EduCity at Iskandar opened and also five new international offices for international marketing established.

– Bernama