Happy New Year everyone! Hope you have all had a great start to 2019!
Last year, we unveiled a new vision – Inspire to Aspire, based on Dika’s fundamental purpose, to inspire our students to aspire to be someone that makes a difference in the world. In order to inspire however, we too need to aspire, to lead by example. As an education institution of higher learning, what difference can we make? Considering the present situation, higher learning, as we know it needs to be transformed. Striving to go beyond academia must seem odd for an education institution. Yet, it is exactly what we must do going forward.
2018 was a momentous year for us. The year was marked by many “firsts” for Dika College. We organised our first symposium, themed ‘In It For The Right Reason’. It saw various like-minded key players in the industry who are focused on the wellbeing of children come together to share ideas, discuss challenges, discover new opportunities and collaborate to build a child-centered ECE industry.
On the academic front, Dika has produced over 900 students to date, with our alumni continuing to make an impact in the industry both locally and on the international front. Our ECE graduates comprise the top 20% of early childhood educators in the industry while our Special Education graduates are the top 10% of special needs educators in the country.
We forged important partnerships in 2018. We became the first in the country to partner with foremost Early Childhood Education (ECE) institution in New Zealand, New Zealand Tertiary Education (NZTC), to offer a 3+0 Bachelor of Education (Early Childhood Education). New Zealand is a world leader in ECE so this partnership puts us in the right track towards pushing the ECE sector forward in Malaysia. Last year, we also collaborated with Caveman Asia for our Edupreneur programme, which aims to bridge the gap between academia and industry.
Education as we know it, is changing. To be a leader in the education sector, we have to go beyond academia and strive to make education, industry-relevant. For this to happen, it is now imperative that our academic programmes include an opportunity for substantial engagement with the relevant industry players so students may graduate with more than just a paper qualification. Today, we have a paper inflation. Almost everyone owns at least a degree. Essentially, graduates with industry experience and who are workforce-ready will have an edge over the rest.
Still, being an education institution is not all about our graduate employability rate. Although we are proud that in 2017, 90% of our graduates are employed, it is significantly more important to us at Dika that our students are passionate about the academic path that they are pursuing. With many young people continuing to pursue courses that they have no real passion for, simply for the paper qualification and money, inspiring students to discover their real passion and to pursue it continues to be a challenge. Last year, we were enlivened when our alumni member, #Nelvianna Masandul, shared about her journey as an educator and her mission to bring quality Early Childhood Education to children in rural areas of Sabah. She is truly the embodiment of the Dika graduate and encourages us to continue in our own efforts to inspire students to aspire for their dreams. After all, the ultimate goal of education is so we can make a positive impact in our community and society.
As we start the new year, I invite you all to pursue what you are passionate about in the work that you do. If you’re passionate about something or want to see change, champion your cause and persist until you make it happen. We have challenges that lie ahead. The road to transforming education is not going to be an easy path but it is a road we need to take to make a difference.
I would like to wish you all a wonderful and rewarding year. Now, let us all roll-up our sleeves and bring on the improvement we want to see this year.
Pua Chee Ling