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Sat, Feb 21, 2009
The Star/Asia News Network
Gloom and cheer in education

By PRIYA KULASAGARAN

ONE knows the global economic gloom is serious when a politician openly admits to his pessimism. Just last week, former British chief economic advisor to the Treasury Ed Balls was quoted saying: 'The reality is this is becoming the most serious global recession, I am sure, for over 100 years as it will turn out.'

While our economy has been relatively resilient thus far, the Malaysian Institute of Economic Research reports that the country cannot be insulated from the effects if the world economy gets worse.

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» Industries that can take the crunch

The mainstream media has been awash with reports of increasing unemployment and government-backed stimulus packages.

How do all these translate in real terms to the average Malaysian school-leaver weighing higher education options.

Alternative choices

'I'm still hoping to go to university,' says Khairy Sulaiman, 17. Looking at part-time job advertisements posted outside a 7-11 store, Khairy's only wish is that his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examination results will be good enough to enable him to get a place in a public university.

'If not, I would rather go out and earn some money instead of studying something I am not interested in,' he adds.

Fellow school-leaver Jamal Mossein, 17, echoes this sentiment, but thinks that it will be useful to obtain a vocational skill as well.

Driven by his interest in cars, Jamal has been working part-time at a mechanic's workshop while waiting for his SPM results.

'This way, I am picking up a skill that will always be in demand. Why rack up a debt right now when I can learn and earn a living at the same time.' he adds.

Citing financial difficulties, both Khairy and Jamal claim that their friends are have also chosen to enter the workforce instead of furthering their studies.

Universiti Malaya deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin warns against adopting this line of thinking just because of the economic recession.

'If things do get worse, you can sacrifice anything else, but not your education,' says Prof Mohd Amin.

'This is the right time to invest in education so that you can be better prepared for the eventual upturn of the economy. Besides, it is futile to think that you can find a decent job in the current market without any qualifications.'

 
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