Friday, February 27, 2009
Another Undergraduate Speaks
When my brother talked about his university days in Banana Talk 2.0: A Malaysian Undergraduate, it really bought up lots of memories. Year after year our local university ranking drops to a further embarrassing level. When the press questions the people involved (i.e ministers, lecturers, management staffs and students) fingers start pointing in circles and made it look like everyone was at fault - which in fact IS everyone's fault.
The kiasu-ness was evident among the students. Even in my faculty, these parasites were 'all over the place'. They cling on you and pretend to be your good buddy for the sake of getting tutorial answers. When in turn you ask them for answers, they shun you and try avoiding you like you have some contagious parasitic illness. Even though most of the answers are easily available in the library and the Internet, still many were reluctant to search for themselves and prefer to 'feed off' someone's answer sheet. To make things worse, when this parasite is among your assignment group member and not only does she expects you to 'feed her' but also cover up her flaws. Needless to say, I was so frustrated with this particular individual that I reported her to the lecturers causing her to fail two papers on our final year. Did I regret it? Not one ounce. I felt that such individual didn't even deserve a degree in the first place, so why should I feel sorry for her?
Now, as much as our ministers want our local universities to produce more graduates every year, it looks more like our universities are now turning into something like a China factory which mass produces everything without any QC. During my years in uni, I seriously wonder if the higher education ministry is actually doing any filtering or just allowing any Tom, Dick or Harry to get a degree. Before my brother even entered uni, my parents were worried sick that we might not get a place in uni. But when my father employed a freshly graduated chemist from University Malaya and my father asked her on something, her reply not only shocked my father but gave him a sense of hope that if such kind of person can be accepted into university, then it wouldn't be a problem for his children. Shocking, but seriously true.
The lecturers aren't exactly flawless either. I've this lecturer who not only reads from the slide but also translate word for word into Bahasa. So the entire 45 minutes of so-called lecture was nothing more but this (just some silly example) - "This is a computer. Maksudnya ini komputer. This is a mouse. Maksudnya ini te-tikus. This is a keyboard. Maksudnya ini papan kekunci. (and on until the end of the slide or end of 45 minutes which ever comes first)". But that lecturer isn't the worse of the lot. There was one lecturer who loves to use clings to one particular book for one particular course. That book became somewhat "The Bible" and coincidentally the 10 chapters in that book were like the 10 commandment. And thou shall memorize the book, regurgitate it's contents during exams and thou shall all get an A - which sadly, was exactly what I and the rest of my course mate did.
When I was in uni, I had the opportunity to make friends with one or two lecturers. My course mates and I had many chats with them over tea or sometimes tong sui (sweet soup). They helped me realized that the system or policies itself was very very wrong. Having the need to fulfill the ISO standards (which to us was nothing more but a waste of paper and time) a lecturer's job was no different from a primary school teacher. There were weekly meetings, faculty events to be carried out (and reports written on everything they did), become a counselor for a certain number of students. And if that's not bad enough, if the overall grades of students are not ideal (statistics - the bell shaped curve), they have to write a report. If students fail, write a report. If the lecturer is getting a bad review from students, write report. Any thing not "ideal", write report. So with so many reports that needs to be filled, there isn't any time for these talented people to work on their researches. They can't be wasting their life just writing reports, so they took a short cut - let these student pass. And it was these students that were 'let off the hook' bring the university a bad name. And again it was these students, I often wonder how they can get into university in the first place?