On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

MCA going all out to promote lifelong learning

Education can be fun, creative and continuous if the
lessons are correctly carried out and, in the end, help upgrade the skills and
resourcefulness of Malaysians to enable them be more competitive.

From qigong exercises to calligraphy to basic computer skills to listening
to talks on management, the MCA is joining the private sector to open their
doors in this ambitious project of making learning relevant.

Under the project, Ong's brainchild, seven topics would be covered emphasising
education, literature, community, economy, living skills, culture and national

Ong visited Hong Kong University recently with officials from Kolej Tunku Abdul
Rahman and Kojadi, an MCA education co-operative, to learn from the
university's experience in successfully promoting lifelong education

The university's School of Professional and Continuing Education has brought to
life its slogan of "bringing university to the people" where diplomas,
associate degrees and even pre-associate degrees are awarded to those who sign
up for its courses.

"Adults who are working have developed themselves by learning a new language, a
new skill or acquired a degree through such programmes tailored towards
self-development," Ong said.

He said the MCA wanted to expand the programme to touch all levels of society,
from school dropouts to housewives to professionals, adding that the party
would open its buildings to facilitate this campaign.

"We want Malaysians to keep in touch with the latest trends and movements so as
not to lag behind. Converting theories into pragmatic living will provide
Malaysians an added advantage," he said in an interview.

Ong said the MCA Lifelong Learning Campaign would complement the government's
Continuous Study Master Plan, adding that there were currently 539 private
colleges and universities with over 314,000 students while the 11 public
universities and six university colleges had over 290,000 students.

To achieve the country's Vision 2020 goal of making Malaysia a developed
country, the government needs to increase sharply the number of graduates and
school-leavers with diplomas.

With the support of local colleges, the MCA hopes to carry out short- and
long-term courses for different levels where diplomas would be given to those
who sign up and attend the courses.

For the dropouts, it can be a simple car repair or beancurd making course while
for businessmen, it could be on upgrading their competitiveness in small and
medium-sized industries.

Officials said many small businessmen wanted to know how they could seek
financial and organisational support as well as strengthen their networking
with fellow Malaysian businessmen, especially those venturing into China.

Then, there are those who merely want to learn simple things like personal
financial management for which a day's course can be conducted while talks on
Confucian and Sun Tzu principles can be tied in to a management perspective to
make it more relevant to present-day living.

In a symbolic gesture to illustrate the point that learning is a lifelong
process, Ong and his deputy Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy together with other party
leaders will launch the campaign at KL Sentral tomorrow.

From Sentral, they will travel to the Ampang station near the MCA
headquarters where the party will hold its annual general assembly on Sunday to
be opened by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

Learning is like life's journey – it begins the moment we are born.