Plenary Hall, 28 November: Minister of Higher Education, Dato' Seri Idris Jusoh, said Malaysia supported the United Nations’ (UN) efforts to transform the world for the better as it strived to meet the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) set by the international body.

He said Malaysia received a very good scorecard with regard to achieving universal education and eradicating absolute poverty based on the final review of the country’s outcomes for the MDGs.

In his speech at the opening of PCF8, the Minister said technology has changed the way people live, work and play as well as how they learn. “This requires us to re-design the education system to adapt to the current needs. Education has become more authentic and learners are becoming more independent in acquiring knowledge instead of merely following the instructions of lecturers,” he said.

Dato' Seri Idris added that the first thrust of his Ministry's education blueprint is to produce holistic graduates through the use of not only conventional methods but also, new modes such as Massive Open Online Courses (MOOCs).

His Ministry has begun a "2 U, 2 I" initiative whereby students spend two years in university and two years in industry to obtain a degree. “The jukebox concept would be implemented so that learners could pick and choose what they wish to learn. This initiative is being carried out in collaboration with several foreign institutions.”

He thanked COL for choosing Malaysia to co-host PCF8 and acknowledged the presence of his former lecturer, Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who is also the former Chief Minister of Penang.

Earlier, COL President and CEO Prof Asha Kanwar commended Malaysia for implementing the accreditation of prior experiential learning and in promoting MOOCs. She said the country has much to share with the rest of the world on its achievements in ODL.

The highlight of the opening ceremony was a country showcase on OUM's efforts to widen access to higher education for teachers in the interior of Peninsular Malaysia and the isle of Borneo. It showed how teachers in remote areas braved various challenges in order to pursue a degree at OUM so that they could become better teachers.