Malaysia, Vision 2020, and Leadership

This past week, John Nash (fellow author of Education Recoded) and I have had the pleasure of presenting to faculty and students at the University of Malaya in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. We have been talking about the impact technology has on education and the dire need for technology leadership. I have not been in Malaysia for about a decade. However arriving to the airport it was evident: Change is happening here. Here are a few reflections that resonated with me:

  • We heard rumors that the Malaysian government is funding something in the neighborhood of 10,000 students to obtain PhDs. Even if this number is not right, the concept has been verified.
  • Some universities are proactively trying to increase their research capabilities and in turn increase their international rankings. (It seems to be working)
  • Young teachers get it. It was not a hard sell to convince would-be-teachers that technology is changing education and that this change requires leadership.
  • Less developed countries have opportunities to do education differently. Countries like Malaysia can change and change fast – but it takes solid leadership.
  • Malaysia’s push to be a developed country by 2020 (Vision 2020) smells like opportunity – if the political will is there.
  • There are cracks though---we heard that some Smart Schools (tech rich schools funded by government) are not working well because the leaders did not get it and thus did not plan for pedagogical change and did not think about sustainability.
  • Despite the hiccups, I am impressed with what I saw. It is not a utopia – I know. But I really do believe that if a less developed nation invests in its educational leaders and ensures that these leaders become technology leader then big things will happen! I am optimistic. You?

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