INDUSTRY Revolution 4.0 represents the movement towards smart industry and manufacturing goals.
Asean countries, including Malaysia, are experiencing industrial transformation on an unprecedented scale with automation, data exchanges, cloud computing, cyber-physical systems, robots, Big Data, Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things and semi-autonomous industrial techniques.
Compared with previous industrial revolutions, the fourth is evolving at an exponential pace.
And, the breadth and depth of these changes herald the transformation of entire systems of production, management and human resources.
With every industrial revolution, there has been a requirement for a skill change, and higher education must prepare graduates to handle new technologies and embrace IR 4.0.
According to Asean Socio-Cultural Community deputy secretary-general Vingthep Arthakaivalvatee, the higher education sector must be ready for this change.
He said education and training were key to social and economic development in a globalised world.
“These issues depend heavily on international cooperation as much as national action. We need to make sure our education system is marked by quality, credibility and innovation.
“We are looking at the modern trend of automation. This means it’s not just about computerisation, but also the ability of different computers and machines to communicate with each other and perform complex tasks together.
“The notion has become an important reference of the education sector, considering its implication to training, curriculum and practice.
“Thus, the evident problem in the near future could not be the lack of employment, but the shortage of skills that new jobs will demand,” he said.
Vingthep was speaking on Redesigning Higher Education for 4.0 Industrial Revolution — the Asean Experience session in conjunction with the Going Global 2018 conference at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre recently.
He said the Asean Work Plan on Education 2016-2020 included relevant priorities, such as strengthening the use of ICT through the expansion of Asean Cyber University (ACU).
“Among them are advancing Asean Studies Programme and courses at the higher education level through online and cross-border mobility, as well as preparing ICT-ready teachers through the enhancement of teachers’ competency to address specific needs of vulnerable groups.
“These three phases of activities are in line with the Asean goals to use ICT effectively for teaching and learning. The advantage of cyber education is that it provides the opportunity for economically disadvantaged countries in Asean to enjoy high levels of education at low cost,” he said.
ACU was established in 2009 to promote education cooperation and people-to-people exchange designed to help Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam acquire the technology and knowledge related to e-learning systems to help students in remote areas access higher education.
Thailand’s Education Minister Dr Teerakiat Jareonsettasin said the ministry had to abandon central planning for a redesign of its higher education for IR 4.0 in Thailand.
“We have tried it for centuries but it doesn’t work. No one, even the most intelligent, can know what is going to change.
“Education is not just for living, it is also for life. There is a sense of what life is that can’t be taught by machines,” he said.
In Thailand, the ministry has offered funding to any universities that want to re-design their curriculum.
He said two month later, 20 universities took the offer and the government has approved the budget to redesign the curriculum.
“For example, we have a group of engineering students who are undergoing a newly-designed curriculum to enable them to be IR 4.0-ready in the next five years or so.
“We believe in the next 10 years we will have another 100,000 more students,” said Teerakiat.
The ministry also welcomes foreign institutions to set up their universities in Thailand so that they can collaborate and exchange expertise.
Malaysia Higher Education Ministry deputy secretary-general (chief Information officer) Datuk Kamel Mohamad said higher education in this country was confronted with changing the landscape of employment trends, technologies and demands.
Kamel said the Higher Education Framework 4.0 (MyHE 4.0) was established to address the issues and challenges of IR 4.0. The framework is more specific than the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education).
“Under the framework, universities have to change their curriculum and delivery to ensure that their graduates have jobs. One of the measures being taken is to produce holistic, balanced and entrepreneurial graduates who can adapt and fill in jobs that are yet to exist,” said Kamel.
He said the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2015-2025 (Higher Education) had incorporated elements meant to tackle the uncertainty of
Kamel said the process of teaching and learning had to be changed. Under Learning and Teaching 4.0, there are four aspects: learning spaces should be redesigned; different kinds of pedagogies are needed; curriculum must be fluid and organic; and, all the aspects should incorporate the latest learning and teaching technologies.
“For example, lecture halls with multi-tiered collaborative tables and the use of smart boards should be implemented. The ministry announced that this year, up to 30 per cent of all university programmes will adopt this concept, enabling them to respond to innovations and new areas of knowledge without being bound by traditional rigid curriculum practices,” he said.
Looking ahead, Vingthep said Asean countries must think about the right balance in targeted reforms to support IR 4.0-ready education.
“Do we have the means to do it? How about the digital divide affecting those that have no access to technology?
“Even within Asean, we have concerns about the development gap. How about the cross-sectoral coordination of efforts, including private sectors, and opportunity for a regional approach and role of the Asean Secretariat in terms of
information sharing, organising politics dialogues and targeting support for Asean members?
“The 32nd Asean High Level Task Force on Economic Integration Meeting recommended a study on the preparedness or readiness of Asean Member States in IR 4.0, which is ongoing,” he said.
Vingthep also said the emergence of an Asean Education 4.0, helped trigger the transformation of mindset in curriculum design, pre-service teachers training, internship scheme and higher education competencies.
“In an age of AI, specific human skills will be more important than ever. Quality assurance, academic credit transfer, research, university networking and student mobility schemes must be responsive to and leverage the benefits of
IR 4.0,” he said.
Myanmar Education Ministry’s Basic and Alternative Education director-general Dr Khine Mye said four phases — foundation building, interdisciplinary institutions, mainstreaming 21st century skills and interdisciplinary collaborations — have been undertaken by the country to redesign higher education for IR 4.0.