Malays are left behind while Chinese outstrip Indians in Ivy League

Many of the issues that need to be sorted out are ideological – tradition pulls policy towards treating it as a public good. Pragmatism and resource constraints, and dare I say it – common sense too – negates that view. At the same time one realises that the current structures, behemoths as they are may be flawed, but are the only vehicles for the distribution of the new national policies. These knots will have to be cut before Najib’s government can begin to make meaningful progress.
with fundamental flaws that cannot be allowed to continue into the future but has clearly established the principle of social engineering via education policy. Where it fails is in arrogating private property to the state, in discriminating against the majority institutions and in creating a distrust of government aid. These flaws will only strengthen the suspicion that government wants to play big brother and nanny – a creepy thought at best. Freedom of association is a right under the Constitution. It is wrong to bar civil servants from participating in politics.

Does it matter if a teacher or a professor has the right credentials for the job? What can credentials tell you anyway? Just because a person is an expert in a subject area does not necessarily make them a competent teacher of that content. Every holder of a doctorate has spent about half a decade creating their nugget of knowledge to share with the world, often confined to the library, laboratory, research arena and the company of peers. They have been trained in asking a good question and then answering it with rigour. In this process, they know a lot about their PhD domain, but know little about the world of teaching and learning. Would they make good teachers?
 
Not just recent PhD students. The same question applies to anyone with deep domain knowledge from the industry who wishes to share their expertise with students. Some are excellent teachers, others are not. They, like the PhD candidates, have received little or no training in teaching and mentoring their students. Do their credentials and degrees have anything to do with becoming good teachers? Taking it one step foward – Do academic credentials have any meaning for leadership and administrative roles, such as the directorship of an institution? 
 At the school level too, one wonders if there is a correlation between good degrees and good teaching. On the one hand we have clear evidence from countries with Finland where every teacher must study both content and teaching for at least seven years before they are allowed to teach. Finland, of course, keeps topping the league tables in student achievement. On the other hand, there is evidence gathered from studies in some states of India where trained teachers were often absent. Para teachers were able to match their output as measured in student achievement. Does this mean we don’t need trained teachers at all for our primary schools? (Not really – further details in the study revealed that trained teachers could turn out higher achievement rates, if given the right incentives. And if they were present) Again and again we find the certificate that is seen as a pre-requisite for obtaining a job has little to do with the skills required for the job. A vice chancellor of a university is expected to watch over governance, manage the politics and be the ambassador for the university. While the selection criteria clearly include these, the certificates and credentials they are expected to produce are often more academic than anything else. They have little relevance to the job at hand. A professor to a university has far more value in their networks and experience than the mere certificates that they must produce for the selection procedure. A school teacher who holds a B.Ed degree may still be utterly unqualified for the task of teaching a real class despite having spent years on the theory of education and child psychology.
Does it matter if a teacher or a professor has the right credentials for the job? What can credentials tell you anyway? Just because a person is an expert in a subject area does not necessarily make them a competent teacher of that content. Every holder of a doctorate has spent about half a decade creating their nugget of knowledge to share with the world, often confined to the library, laboratory, research arena and the company of peers. They have been trained in asking a good question and then answering it with rigour. In this process, they know a lot about their PhD domain, but know little about the world of teaching and learning. Would they make good teachers? Not just recent PhD students. The same question applies to anyone with deep domain knowledge from the industry who wishes to share their expertise with students. Some are excellent teachers, others are not. They, like the PhD candidates, have received little or no training in teaching and mentoring their students. Do their credentials and degrees have anything to do with becoming good teachers? Taking it one step foward – Do academic credentials have any meaning for leadership and administrative roles, such as the directorship of an institution?
    At the school level too, one wonders if there is a correlation between good degrees and good teaching. On the one hand we have clear evidence from countries with Finland where every teacher must study both content and teaching for at least seven years before they are allowed to teach. Finland, of course, keeps topping the league tables in student achievement. On the other hand, there is evidence gathered from studies in some states of India where trained teachers were often absent. Para teachers were able to match their output as measured in student achievement. Does this mean we don’t need trained teachers at all for our primary schools? (Not really – further details in the study revealed that trained teachers could turn out higher achievement rates, if given the right incentives. And if they were present) Again and again we find the certificate that is seen as a pre-requisite for obtaining a job has little to do with the skills required for the job. A vice chancellor of a university is expected to watch over governance, manage the politics and be the ambassador for the university. While the selection criteria clearly include these, the certificates and credentials they are expected to produce are often more academic than anything else. They have little relevance to the job at hand. A professor to a university has far more value in their networks and experience than the mere certificates that they must produce for the selection procedure. A school teacher who holds a B.Ed degree may still be utterly unqualified for the task of teaching a real class despite having spent years on the theory of education and child psychology.

We stand on this platform between the old and the new (regardless of which party comes back to power, though by now it seems to be fairly clear) it is a time to call for change.The bad news is that much of the thinking and debating has been done for years. There are clear opinions and choices on most institutional and policy issues. The path forward is known and the structural gaps are identified. There can be nothing better to inherit for a team that knows that actions often speak larger than words. For example – it is acknowledged that Indian universities need to focus on research and international engagement to ride up the global rankings. (I of course advocate a diversified model for post secondary education that does not require all universities to fight for a spot on the same greasy pole). It is also clear that multiple accreditation bodies need to be set up with the blessings of the sector skills councils that represent the employer’s requirements  – these are to guide the content and certification of competencies to fill the skills gap. At the primary school level we know that qualified teacher gaps are a national emergency – this is already a national mission and must be executed well.Other issues that always get pushed under the carpet are also acknowledged as being awkward – Foreign Direct Investment in education, private sector provision of primary education, the mess that the current community college model presents (when the answer is obvious to some of us) and of course the very troublesome issue of apprenticeships that falls somewhere in the gaps between the ministries of Human Resource Development and Labour. Many of the issues that need to be sorted out are ideological – tradition pulls policy towards treating it as a public good. Pragmatism and resource constraints, and dare I say it – common sense too – negates that view. At the same time one realises that the current structures, behemoths as they are may be flawed, but are the only vehicles for the distribution of the new national policies. These knots will have to be cut before Najib’s government can begin to make meaningful progress.

Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has urged teachers to return to politics under BN’s fold, after conceding a past ruling barring teachers from politics was a mistake he said that a teacher could also join DAP, PAS or PKR? Everyone has a right to join any political party, be it BN or Pakat Since teachers are no longer banned from participating in politics (provided this involvement doesn’t interfere with their responsibility as teachers), they should in droves immediately join a political party that (in their minds)is best able to fight for the rights and the betterment of all Malaysians, irrespective of race, religion and economic status. Then we shall see what the Government will do to all the teachers who support parties other than those in the BN coalition. Also all teachers should then collectively inform the Education Ministry about their membership and participation in the political party of their choice. It would be very interesting to see if BN would be able to sack all of the teachers who support political parties other than BN-affiliated parties from all Government schools throughout Malaysia ?

Teachers to remain apolitical simply because I’d rather not have politics seep into the educating of students at all. There needs to be a buffer limiting teachers from spewing political rhetoric on school grounds. And I mean on school grounds only; not at home or on Facebook after working hours. That’s their right to voice out as individuals off the clock pointless to fight a war that is not winable, unless the gerrymeandering is solved and redelination is fair. “But we have now allowed teachers to be active again (in politics) so I appeal to teachers to come back to us, help us,” he told a teachers appreciation ceremony in Kuala Lumpur today.” Is He asking help ? If your party is good no need to ask for help. Or is it “you help me I help you” kind of thing?

Postings in Facebook hardly seems “active”.. it’s an individual freedom of political affinity to support BN or the opposition. The BN (UMNO) has no say…Teachers like other civil servants are very much preoccupied with their duty towards the people. Therefore they should not be actively involved in politics. The future generation is depended upon them. The last thing you want is BN screwing things up further for the children. Muhyiddin is already doing enough damage. On another note, logically thinking govt servants will never give lend support for the corrupt, non-conscientious and arrogant. Carrying out our duty to the people sincerely should not be dependent upon our political thought.In retrospect; Kamalanathan always gives the impression that he’s the last to be officially informed on any matter and when questioned for a response; he’s always on the fence without a clear and concise response. He’s learned well from his BN cabinet colleagues on being evasive and yet, look important.

The real question that remains to be answered is this: Can learning (read: student achievement)  be improved with better teacher training? If uncredentialled teachers are doing such a good job, wouldn’t teachers with a degree do even better? We do not have definite answers to this question yet, even if the intuitive response (and some studies) is in the positive. 
Even if we agree on the basic truism that more training, teaching and experience will turn out better teachers, credentials are not the correct response. They are merely another gate that needs to be crossed creating a hurdle for many – and only makes the scarcity situtation worse. What India needs is a system of teacher appointments and training without an insistence on certification. Teacher training is not a one off process. It needs reinforcement and maintenance. Teachers who have been teaching well for many years need a pathway to receive accreditation of prior learning (APL) via a rigorous process. Para teachers and B.Ed certified teachers need to recognise the need for life long learning for teaching rather than rest on a static piece of paper that may not be of much value when standing in front of a classroom full of possibilities.

For thousands of Indian students, a Harvard degree, a scholarship from Yale, an acceptance letter from Brown, or being a freshman at Princeton may be the ultimate dream, but when it comes to realizing it, desis seem to lag the Chinese.

While the share of Chinese students on the elite and exclusive club of Ivy League campuses has risen steadily over the last decade (2003-13), the rise in the number of Indians has been marginal. In 2013, Chinese (8,549) made up an impressive 27% of the population at the Ivies in 2013, while Indians (3,064) comprised about 9.7% of all international students at the colleges. Over the last decade, the Chinese have improved their share three-fold, whether in undergraduate programmes, graduate schools or non-degree courses. In comparison, the number of Indians has inched up gradually, from 7.9%.

There’s no gainsaying that the competition to get into the Ivies is fierce. About 30,000 of the brightest students fought for 2,131 places in the Harvard University undergraduate class of 2013 which saw an acceptance rate of 7.32%, according to Hernandez College Consulting. At Princeton University, 21,964 candidates applied for 2,181 spots. In all, the eight colleges that make up the League received over 2 lakh applications and sent acceptance letters to only 11.9% of them.

“Over a 10-year period (2003-13), the proportion of Chinese and Indian students at Ivy League institutions has risen from 22% to 37% of all international students at the universities,” said Rajika Bhandari, deputy vice-president, research and evaluation, Director, Center for Academic Mobility Research at the Institute of International Education. “During the period, the proportion of Chinese at these institutions rose from 14% to 27%, whereas the number of Indians remained between 8 and 10%.”

However, the data does not conclusively tell if Chinese students are more attracted to the Ivy League than Indians or if their increasing presence in the League has to do with their rising numbers in the US.

overall growth in Chinese students in the US over the past few years. In general, both Indian and Chinese students attend a wide range of institutions in the US., with most based at large doctoral/research institutions, Bhandari added.

While the count of Chinese flying to the US for education has increased over the years, it has been the reverse in the case of Indians, albeit marginally. Alex Chisholm, director, Statistical Analysis, Graduate Management Admission Council, says, “Each year, thousands of Indian and Chinese citizens apply to Ivy League business schools using the GMAT exam. Although Chinese citizens today sit for more GMAT exams than Indian citizens, Indians actually have more touch points with US MBA programs. This is because Chinese candidates taking the GMAT are primarily interested in non-MBA business degrees such as accounting and finance.”

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