Education Malaysia - Redefining EA Learning
Borrowing from the knowledge capital of the Asian Tiger By JANE MWANGI
As the wind of change blows across East Africa, the import of education is rising very fast throughout the region. From the traditional and conventional form of education that was offered in the past, the citizenry in the region is increasingly demanding a didactic education that’s responsive to global socio-economic developments.
Many East Africans are turning to the fabled Asian Tigers for an education that has relevance to the development of needs of a region experiencing pre – take off economic conditions. More and more East Africans are looking east to Malaysia to tap the fast growing knowledge based economy and its attendant education offerings.
The South-East Asian nation has its roots firmly planted in East Africa with offices in all the capital cities in the region with the busiest based on Koinange Street, Nairobi. Mr. Vincent Naidu, the managing director of Education Malaysia in Kenya is the man responsible for bringing Malaysia education to the region in conjunction with colleagues in the region. The impetus behind setting up Education Malaysia Limited in the region emanated from the 1998 bomb blast in Nairobi and in Dar es Salaam, where genuine Kenyan students were being denied visas by European and North American countries due to certain guidelines.
Mr. Naidu proceeded to collaborate with four universities to kick-start the 12 year journey that has witnessed over 3000 East African students taking up study opportunities in Malaysia. The relevance of Malaysian education in the region has led to over 500 students taking this education overture every year. Mr. Naidu is honest in admitting that Education Malaysia was a bit skeptical at first when they begun making inroads into region but the number of students gradually started to rise with time.
“Malaysia is a safe place, has the best in technology and the repertoire of degrees is immense and relevant. Degrees are internationally recognized.” Malaysia, he says, targets becoming the best education hub in the world. He has a lot of praise for East African students who are reputed for being disciplined, and don’t given to involvement in unruly behavior.
After anchoring itself in Kenya, Education Malaysia has made gains by spreading its wings to East to Kampala. The Kampala office, he says, is growing at a fast rate as well and slowly catching up with Kenya in terms of students enrolling in Malaysian universities. “The difference between Kenya and Uganda is that nearly all students from Kenya are privately funded as opposed to their Ugandan counterparts who are either government or corporate sponsored,” he elaborates.
Malaysian higher education institutions offer quality education at a competitive cost. Reputable universities from the United Kingdom and Australia have set up branch campuses in Malaysia, while their counterparts from the United States, Canada, France and Germany are offering external as well as franchised degree programmes in collaboration with local institutions. According to StudyMalaysia.com, the cost of living is in the RM800 to RM1, 000 per month range or RM9, 600 to RM12, 000 per year for a student.
For international students, it is estimated that completing a three-year degree programme would require about RM60, 000 to RM90, 000 to cover their tuition fees and living expenses. The courses preferred by the students has changed as, four years back IT was the preferred choice but at present students are opting for hospitality, architecture, graphic design, among others. Studying in Malaysia doesn’t require one to have a bank statement as is the case with Britain and America which is quote a relive to parents.
“The student is only required to commit to the first year’s payment of tuition fees and subsequently the rest will be paid on a semester basis,” Mr. Naidu adds.
Students need not be skeptical about the effects of culture shock because Malaysia although being at fifty five percent a predominantly Muslim nation, freedom of worship is enshrined in the constitution. It boasts of 92 different dialects, speaking more than 130 different tongues. The weather is similar to that of the Indian Ocean coastal region such as Mombasa, as well as lakeside cities like Kampala, Kisumu, Mwanza and Jinja. The hot and dry or hot and humid weather is amenable to East African students who are not used to the extremely cold climes of North America and Europe. In addition to the climate, the food is cheap, it’s all halal.
Mr. Naidu doesn’t mince his words when it comes to rating most East African universities against Malaysian ones saying they need to improve in terms of facilities which he terms obsolete.“Some students have to be re-trained in order to fit into the job market: training a fresh graduate consumes time and money. Kenyan universities need to upgrade especially in keeping up with technology,” he exemplifies
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