SERI KEMBANGAN, Oct 29 — Universities should function as catalysts for the search for knowledge or be touted as hubs which map academic talent and the development of scholarship, said Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad today.
Institutions of higher learning were platforms for creativity and innovation to fuel the nation’s growth, and in this connection, he said, they had been established in all states across the country so that a culture of knowledge could be expanded in a holistic and inclusive manner.
Apart from educating the youth, such institutions also contributed to local communities, he said, adding that this could be seen in how they “have solved the problems faced by the people”.
The premier said this when giving a speech at the 13th awards ceremony for the nation’s academics (Majlis Anugerah Akademik Negara), held at the Palace of The Golden Horses hotel here.
Initiatives such as the ‘Service Learning Malaysia-University For Society’ programme had given university students the opportunity to undertake community service, by applying the theories they had learned in class to solve problems faced by communities in need, he said.
This initiative, he said, was a clear example of how knowledge, innovation and technology developed by students, academics and researchers at institutions of higher learning, could be transferred to society.
At the same time, such efforts needed to be commercialised so that they could bring wider benefit to the country’s socio-economic development, the premier said, and went on to note that the herald of the fourth industrial revolution (or Industry 4.0) required academics who possessed a vision and were ready to adapt to new challenges to ensure their students were not left behind.
In this connection, the Pakatan Harapan government had identified the education sector as a core component of its efforts to build a new Malaysia that was inclusive and renowned on the world stage, he added.
At today’s event, Dr Mahathir awarded the National Academic Laureate 2019 award to Prof Emeritus Tan Sri Dr Zakri Abdul Hamid of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.