Back in 1992, the Sunway College was just one institution. That one institution has since grown to become Sunway University, having established no less than four Sunway Colleges around Malaysia as a pre-university and professional courses institution of repute and opened up Sunway International School Kuala Lumpur and Johor to cater to the demand for high quality secondary education.
Today, there are 17 institutions under the Sunway Education Group (SEG) and at the helm of it is Chief Executive Officer, Professor Elizabeth Lee.
“What I do stems from my passion for education and I believe there’s still a lot to do! Nurturing young minds is an important job and a satisfying one too, especially when you see your students grow and mature into responsible citizens who try and do their part in helping others and making their world better.
“It gives me great joy when my former students and our alumni return and contribute to the further development of the institution as well as the next generation of students,” Lee tells BusinessToday.
SEG’s success she says is the collective effort of so many people at the SEG, driven by leader and founder, Jeffrey Cheah, whose leadership led to the foundation of multiple collaborations with Harvard University, University of Oxford, University of Cambridge, University of California, Berkeley and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Other partnerships include with Lancaster University, Victoria University and Le Cordon Bleu.
Lee also attributed the success achieved by SEG to the talent it has invested in from all backgrounds, genders and expertise from Malaysia and around the world. “Talent diversity is key in order to continually develop, grow and thrive. And we are constantly looking for young talent to ensure continued success of the SEG,” she says.
The Ever-Changing Education Landscape
“The Malaysian education system is very exciting, believe me. Along the way, there have been some hits and misses, but I believe Malaysia is still a great destination for all learners and we have great potential moving forward,” Lee highlights.
SEG is looking to nurture future entrepreneurs through its updated curriculum and additional programmes made available through the Sunway Innovation Labs (Sunway iLabs) and Alibaba GET (Global eCommerce Talent).
“Post-pandemic, we need to have graduates who not only seek employment, but who can help create jobs instead.”
In 2013 and 2015, the Ministry of Education and Higher Education launched their own Malaysia Education Blueprints for schools and higher education, respectively, which sought to change the education ecosystem through teaching reform, more community and parental involvement, less emphasis on exams, incorporation of technologies, greater emphasis on TVET, enculturing entrepreneurship and making Malaysia an international education hub.
Recent incidents however have also changed the education landscape. With Covid-19, teaching and learning not only changed in Malaysia but globally as well. To enable students to continue in their education, education institutions switched to an alternative mode of online and dual mode learning.
As part of the change, SEG adopted hybrid teaching and learning across all their institutions, allowing students to continue their learning either online or face-to-face, wherever they are throughout the world.
In fully embracing new technology and new ways of learning, SEG continued to provide innovative education pathways. Last year, SEG launched 42KL, part of the worldwide phenomenon Ecole 42, which is a revolutionary model of learning, different from the conventional institutions of higher learning.
“We believe that the future of education is multi-dimensional and one that fully utilises the resources and technologies available in this 4th Industrial Revolution,” Lee says.
While the pandemic has been a cause of concern for the education landscape, Lee urges all education stakeholders, from governments to private sector, communities, school and institutions of higher education to ensure that no one is left behind.
Inculcating and Achieving the UNSDGs
“Education is empowerment. We only have this one planet and in pursuit of greater productivity towards a more comfortable lifestyle, we have unfortunately overused our natural resources, jeopardising our flora and fauna.
“If we do not do something, we might no longer have a home. As such, it is crucial to ensure the younger generations are aware of what is at stake and chart a better and more sustainable path for humanity,” Lee tells BusinessToday.
Of the 17 United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UNSDGs), Sunway has placed focus and continuous work to fulfil three of them, zero hunger, quality education and partnership for goals.
The Jeffrey Cheah Foundation (JCF) which owns the Sunway Education Group, making it the largest non-profit social enterprise education conglomerate in the country has handed out over RM500 million in scholarships to deserving students.
“Of course, at its core, we must continue to fulfil our duty to provide the highest quality of education in terms of curriculum and delivery. We will continue educating and enhancing the lives of the masses through education by promoting equity and inclusiveness.
“We are also committed to ensuring future talents are ready for a digital and technology driven world as well as to nurture socially responsible future generations who are empowered to care for the environment and ensure sustainable living,” Lee says optimistically.
However, in achieving their goals, the chief executive urges for the need to step up research efforts as it is also a major thrust for her and her team in Sunway University.
Aside from that, SEG is also looking to continuously expand on micro-credentials.
“Post pandemic, many in the workforce will have to be re-trained or upskilled to ensure they stay relevant and be up-to-date according to the shifts in the job environment,” she added.
“I hope to look back one day, and see my students succeed and thrive in the world out there. Everything we do here is for them, and we join in the joy of the good they achieve. I also hope to see them give back to society, celebrate differences, be civic minded citizens, and become caretakers of our world,” Lee concludes