KUALA LUMPUR, 24 Nov 2008: In this era of innovation and discovery, a nation’s worth is no longer judged by the size of its physical resources, but by the quality if its human capital, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that the quality of a nation’s human capital was determined by the quality of its higher education.
“And the quality of its higher education is determined in turn by the quality of its leadership,” he said in his speech at the Higher Education Leadership Academy’s (HELA) inaugural conference entitled Leadership in Higher Education: Framing the Future here today.
His speech was read by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin.
Najib said those charged with leadership training and development had to ensure that higher education leaders were exposed and vigilant to global and national scenarios of change, and were capable of addressing such changes effectively.
He said the leadership of these institutions should take stock of their current status and standing in the national and international higher education scenario, and “see where they need to improve, update or upgrade whatever works and curtail or even cut back on the deadwood.”
“The pursuit of excellence must not be a catchphrase. It must become a culture and that culture must be reflected at the very apex of the institutions, with the top-level leadership who have to be seen practising the culture of transformation, not just preaching it,” he said.
Najib said the cutting edge of higher education was no longer determined by its generation of knowledge per se, the hallmark of higher education now hinged on its people, the academicians who teach and research, the graduates who flood the job market, as well as, those who led and managed these organisations.
He said this was especially so with today’s education-driven markets where a degree made all the difference, coupled with the newly emergent market for innovative products and services which created a need for highly focused academic specialism geared specifically for particular areas of work.
To add to this, the focus of global economy had shifted away from industrial-based production to innovation fuelled by creative risk-takers, he said.
“In this situation, the modes of teaching and assessment will have to be revamped to cater for those who want specialised knowledge at particular intervals or durations of study,” he said.
Najib said thus, teaching and learning environments would have to change to encompass the breadth and width of particular professional needs, as well as, students’ needs. — Bernama