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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 93 ( 2013 ) 1541 – 1545

1877-0428 © 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license. Selection and peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Ferhan Odabaşı

doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2013.10.079

ScienceDirect

3

rd

World Conference on Learning, Teaching and Educational Leadership - WCLTA 2012

The Need of Lifelong Learning towards Learning Community

Development in Malaysia

Yahya Buntat

a

*, Nor Azlina Puteh

b

, Siti Hajar Azeman

cc

,

Ahmad Nabil Md Nasir

d

, Noorminshah Iahad

e

, Marzilah A.Aziz

f

a, b, c, d Faculty of Education Universiti Teknologi Malaysia 81310 Johor Bahru, Malaysia

eFaculty of Computer Science and Information Systems,Universiti Teknologi Malaysia

81310 Johor Bahru, Malaysia

f, Language Academy, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, 81310 Johor Bahru, Malaysia

Abstract

Globalization and technological changes demand the countries to seek for economic-based knowledge for economic survival purposes.to ensure their economic survival purposes. A mechanism to do that is through the active promotion and provision of lifelong learning. Malaysia is one of those countries that have been vigorously doing that. In a mission to achieve vision 2020, it is essential lifelong learning be adopted as a New National Agenda in achieving the nation’s human capital development. In building the human capital development, students need to be engaged in learning community’s environment. Learning communities operationalize a constructivist approach to knowledge (Cross, 1998), whereby knowledge is not simply “discovered” but is socially constructed. As a result, rather than authority (instructor) transmitting information, students actively construct and assimilate knowledge through a reciprocal process (Bruffee, 1995; Schon, 1995; Whipple, 1987). Hence, this paper will discuss the importance of lifelong learning community development in Malaysia.

Keywords: Lifelong learning, learning community development, human capital development; © 2013 Published by Elsevier Ltd. All right reserved.

1. Introduction

In a memorandum of lifelong learning, the European Commission (now Union) defines lifelong learning as “all-purposeful learning activity, undertaken on an ongoing basis with the aim of improving knowledge, skills and competence”. The Commission believes that such learning contributes to promoting both employability and active citizenship as well as combating social exclusion (The European Commission, 2001). “The Malaysian Government, in our Third Outline Perspective Plan, … recognized the importance of Lifelong Learning. Lifelong learning will and is becoming increasingly important in the knowledge-based economy where knowledge and skills need to be continuously updated and upgraded” (Abdullah Badawi, 2002). In addition, the statements highlighted several important features of lifelong learning. Firstly, it is an ongoing learning activity that would lead to the improvement of an individual and the betterment of the society. Secondly, it is an investment in human capital and needs to be recognised as one. Thirdly, in order for lifelong learning to be effective, there must be a paradigm shift or a change

* Correction Author: Yahya Buntat. Tel.: +6012-736-4411 E-mail: p-yahya@utm.my

© 2013 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd.Open access under CC BY-NC-ND license. Selection and peer review under responsibility of Prof. Dr. Ferhan Odabaşı

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in the attitude of the society. The good news is that many countries have recognised the above benefits of lifelong learning, and just like Malaysia, are promoting it as a principal catalyst for economic growth.

2. Concept of lifelong learning

Developing a culture of lifelong learning in an individual is an important aspect of livelihood. According to Ivanova (2002), schools and higher institutions where formal learning takes place are no longer adequate to equip an individual to face the challenges of the fast moving world. There is a need to continue learning throughout one’s life to keep pace with what is happening in and around the world (American Association of Retired People {AARP} 2000). In the 21st century, the ability to continue to learn is crucial and governments have the responsibility of providing the resources to ensure that every citizen in the country has the right to get education, be it in a formal or an informal setting. The concept of lifelong learning which leads to a ‘learning society’ has been visualised and written about for several decades and an example of this is the UNESCO-appointed Faure Committee Report of 1972 entitled “Learning to Be” which made an ardent appeal to all nations of the world to reorganise their educational structures on two basic premises. The first is that a learning society is one in which all agencies become providers of education and the second premise is that all citizens should be engaged in learning, taking full advantage of the opportunities provided by the learning society in 2002.

As a result, learning can be categorised into four general categories which are:

i. formal learning (activities that take place in formal educational institutions that lead to some form of accreditation or qualification),

ii. non-formal learning (learning that takes place out of the formal educational context where the aim of learning may not necessarily results in a particular qualification),

iii. individuals taking part in activities to gain new skills or knowledge in particular areas related to their work or personal growth (private tutorials for examinations, technical courses, extension education, job-related training, community organised programmes and other learning activities organised by public, private or non-governmental organizations) and finally,

iv. informal learning that comprises of generally unstructured learning activities that individuals undertake to fulfill the need for knowing about certain things; this incidental learning includes unplanned and unintended learning outcomes that directly result from engaging in other activities where learners may suddenly discover a connection between different objects that brings significance to them.

2.1 Quest of Lifelong Learning in Malaysia

Tertiary education is the educational level following the completion of secondary education that is 11-12 years of basic schooling. Colleges, universities, institutes of technology and polytechnics are the main institutions that provide tertiary education.

Figure 1: Gap of Malaysia’s human capital compares with other high income economies

Source: World Bank Education Statistics, Economic Intelligence Agency, Internal Labour Organisation, Republic of Korea’s Ministry of Labour, Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower, US Bureau of Labour Statistics

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In Malaysia, it is apparent that the concept of lifelong learning is linked to the productivity and employability (Bax & Hassan, 2003) but most adults would not claim themselves to participate in learning activities if they are not engaged in a formal educational process. The concept of lifelong learning by including all learning activities which include formal, non-formal and informal learning activities, comes largely in the form of formal learning and to a much lesser extent, non-formal learning that can is the best described as the core of lifelong learning programs and activities in the Malaysian context (Bax & Hassan, 2003). It also encourages increasing accessibility to education and training to increase income generation capabilities as well as the quality of life and promotes lifelong learning to enhance employability and productivity of the labour force (UNESCO Institute for Education, 2002). Accessibility to education has been a long standing discussion among policy makers. However, there are several issues and challenges in tertiary education, particularly in the lifelong learning access in Malaysia (Shukor, 2010).

Integrating the planned initiatives in the Tenth Malaysia Plan and the Third Outline Perspective Plan (OPP3) will further strengthen the following actions, which are to promote and implement programs for lifelong learning especially for those without a strong basic education so that they will have the opportunity to continue their education as well as learn at their own pace outside school or in the workplace

3. The Significance of lifelong learning

Many would agree that today lifelong learning is no longer an option but a necessity. Since a unique feature of Malaysia is its cultural heterogeneity, the primary goal of educational and training policy has been to foster national unity and personal/moral development, therefore the mainstream schooling sector has received the most emphasis compared to the other sectors (Aziz, 1985; Tzannatos and Johnes, 1997). Nevertheless, there has been an increasing awareness, perhaps some consensus in Malaysia today that lifelong learning will need to be at the centre stage now and in the future (this will be discussed in the next section). And that it should play a major role as an integral part of the national education and training system with an equal importance and status to the general stream education and training.

3.1 Globalisation and Technological Changes

Developments globally seem to have elevated the importance of lifelong learning, making it central to the discourse of education and training in Malaysia. Increased globalisation and interdependency of national economies, helped by the worldwide removal of trade barriers and the lowering of transportation costs, have created a more homogenised international system of processes and transactions and a global structure of economic competition (Korsgaard, 1997). All countries, whether in the Asia Pacific region or Europe, are drawn into this process whose success will be largely determined by the performance of each nation’s economic sectors. The ability to be competitive is certainly a single important factor. Organisations are encouraged to be innovative when fabricating their products, services and processes to remain competitive. Production methods are also gradually being propelled toward qualitative shifts with low skilled or semi-skilled workers on the assembly line, being displaced with multi-skilled workers producing a more diversified range of products with shorter product life cycles and through higher automation and better technology. The National IT Agenda (NITA), the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), the emphasis on Science and Technology, and the intensification of R & D, are some of the efforts towards increasing technology intensity and knowledge capabilities in Malaysia.

3.2 Economic Opportunity

The learning society and learning economy are called when the citizens of the country become multi-skilled and are willing to accept and adapt to these rapid changes very quickly. If these citizens are not flexible then they will inevitably lag behind in their economic pursuit of the limited economic opportunities available. Therefore, it is in the interest of every citizen to be fully engaged fully in the learning process, thus making the opportunity to participate effectively in the country’s development process.

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3.3 Quality of Life and Security

Lifelong learning is not limited to the widening of economic opportunities but also would lead to a chance for personal growth and enrichment in an intellectual sense. Since it is an independent and self-directed learning, it provides the citizens the choice on what, how and when they want to learn. The ability to learn new skills throughout our lifetime is our best bet to ensure that we continue to be gainfully employed. All the above factors reinforce the need for lifelong or continuous learning if the nation wants to progress and become more competitive at the global level. The provision of education at all levels, from the primary to the tertiary level has become important issues and challenges amongst political leaders, policy makers and educationists alike. To complement this development and to support a sustainable development policy, lifelong learning programmes have been propagated to the maximum level, with open and distance learning (ODL) being adopted as an integral component of such learning. Leveraging on information and communication technology (ICT), many developed countries have advanced further with e-learning, thus, enhancing more opportunities for their population to gain access to knowledge and information. In line with this, a “learner-centered” approach in education delivery has now become an important aspect of ODL. At the same time, we also witness the establishment of distance and virtual universities; and in some instances, hybrid universities. Since many governments lack the funds to establish universities to satisfy the rising expectation of school leavers and the working population, they adopt strategies that allow the private sector to establish universities or colleges, thus providing greater access for higher education to all.

4. Learning communities development

Several studies show that participating in learning communities is linked to a variety of desired outcomes of college (Matthews, 1993; McGuen et al., 1996; Pike, 1999; Tinto, 1998; Tinto & Love, 1995). Tinto and Goodsell (1993) found that first-year students at a large public research university who participated in Freshmen Interest Groups (FIGs) made up of linked courses had higher grades and were more likely to persist compared to peers who did not experience a FIG. Similarly, Shapiro and Levine (1999) reported that students participating in learning communities were more engaged overall, had higher persistence rates, and evidenced greater gains in intellectual and social development compared to peers who did not participate in learning communities. Tinto and his colleagues (1994) also documented the following benefits of learning communities at two-year colleges: students created their own supportive peer groups that extend beyond the classroom; students became more involved in both in-class and out-of-class activities; students spent more time and effort on academic and other educationally-purposeful activities; and students became more actively involved and took more responsibility for their own learning instead of being a passive receiver of information.

The theoretical and empirical works supporting the efficacy of learning communities are promising. At the same time, much of the published research on learning communities is based on anecdotal evidence or program evaluations (MacGregor, 1991; Matthews, 1993) or from single institutions (MacGregor, personal communication, 2003; McGuen et al., 1996; Pike, 1999). Though dozens of studies have been conducted at fourth acadenic year of colleges and universities, few are published and, therefore, readily available (MacGregor, 2003). Most of the handful of multiple-institution studies that have been reported are from the year two college sector (Tinto & Love, 1995) or focused on students in specific disciplines such as engineering.

5. Conclusion

Lifelong Learning has produced many semi-professional labour and middle executives in various sectors of employment. It has been through the evolution of education and training in line with the requirements of economic development. Direction and agenda of this program is one step to achieve the transformation of the face of the globalization phenomenon and lead the country towards a high income economy based on innovation and creativity. This transformation requires acculturation-based organizations and high-performance quality by implementing

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education and training transformation initiatives for sustainable competitiveness. Indeed, this program will change the status of one's education to raise one’s standards.

However, an effort to ensure the success of this program requires the cooperation of all parties. Professionalism of each member must be nurtured and strengthened with positive encouragement and wise leadership at all levels of leadership. Excellent work culture within the organization will highlight the superior image quality education of Lifelong Learning. In this regard, the activities launched a strategic plan for action and this work should be borne by the top by taking into account the ability of the respective institutions.

Consequently, this program can enhance our education and training system and to the utmost level and produce graduates who are excellent. These institutions have the ability to provide more meaningful contribution in the generation of labour needed by the country's industrial sector. It is also capable of producing human capital that can develop their own enterprise. The impact of this program to society is the opportunity to possess education and training at a high quality education in a dynamic global economic change. This program is committed to generate human capital through education and training in innovative and creative learning environment and to constantly stimulate students to further enhance the appearance and the correlation with the latest skills needs in the jobs.

Acknowledgments



The authors would like to thank to the Ministry of Higher Education (MOHE), Research Management Centre (RMC) Universiti Teknologi Malaysia(UTM) for financial support of this research under Fundamental Research Grant (FRGS) Vot: 4F105

References

Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, Speech at the Official Opening of the ASEM Lifelong

Bax, M. R. N., & Hassan, M. N. A. Lifelong Learning in Malaysia. Retrieved on October 6, 2011, from http://www.unesco.org/iiep/eng/research/highered/lifelm/malaysia.pdf

Bruffee, K. A. Collaborative learning: Higher education, interdependence, and the authority of knowledge. Baltimore, MD: John Hopkins University Press, 1995.

Cross, K. P. Why learning communities? Why now? About campus. 1998, 4-11. D. C.: The American Association of Community Colleges, 1993.

EC, Commission of the European Communities (2001), Communication from the Commission, Making a European Area of Lifelong Learning a Reality. COM (2001) Lifelong Learning. Brussels

Ivanova, I. Trends of development of lifelong kearning in Latvia. Latvia: University of Laatvia, Faculty of Education and Psychology, 2002. Learning Initiative International Conference on Lifelong Learning, Asia Europe Institute, University of Malaya, Kuala Lumpur, 2002. MacGregor, J. What differences do learning communities make? Washington center news, 1991, 6, 4-9.

MacGregor, J. What differences do learning communities make? Washington center news. 1991, 6, 4-9. Matthews, R. Enriching teaching and learning through learning communities.

McGuen, S., et al. Beacon PAL: Peer-assisted learning project update. New Beacon college outcome research briefs No. 11. Sacramento, CA: America River College, Office of Research and Development. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 393517), 1996.

Schon, D. A. The new scholarship requires a new epistemology. Change. 1995, 27, 27-34.

Shukor, R. A. Assuring Access to Lifelong Learning in Malaysia. Retrieved on October 6, 2011 from http://www.oecd.org/dataoecd/47/33/39512883.pdf

T. O’Banion (ed.), Teaching and learning in the community college. Washington

Tinto, V. & Love, A. G. A longitudinal study of learning communities at LaGuardia Community College. Washington, DC: Office of Education Research and Improvement. (ERIC Document Reproduction Service No. ED 380178), 1995.

Tinto, V., & Goodsell, A. Freshman interest groups and the first year experience: Constructing student communities in a large university. Paper presented at the annual meeting of the College Reading and Learning Association. Kansas City, MO, 1993.

UNESCO Institute for Education. Institutionalising Lifelong Learning: Creating Conducive Environments for Adult Learning in the Asian Context. UNESCO Institute for Education, Hamburg, Germany, 2002

References

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