Malaysia's education ministry is being restructured this month. It will have six departments designed to focus on government priorities following a directive by prime minister Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamad.
The new departments are moral and spiritual development education, private education, higher education, special education, primary and secondary education and technical education.
The exercise also creates more managerial posts and upgrades such posts as divisional heads and state directors. In place of the two deputy director-generals there will be five, each heading a department.
The head of the higher education department will be called a director. He or she could come from a university, the education service or the public service. University Kebangsaan Malaysia vice chancellor Anuwar Ali will head the department on secondment for the time being.
Education minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Rasak said it was important that someone from the university sector be the first director of the higher education department, as a good rapport with universities was crucial.
The government plans to optimise the use of existing university facilities by increasing their annual intake to 20,000 students each over the next four years. Najib is confident of achieving the student target for established universities, but thinks there may be difficulties in the universities in Sarawak and Sabah.
Najib said the ministerial reorganisation would improve efficiency. The private education department for example, is in line with the objective of making Malaysia a centre of educational excellence. This would enable greater control and planning in the setting up of new private education institutions, and over their curricula and the quality of teachers.
Close links among all these divisions was important to ensure that quality teaching and education were delivered to students at all three levels.
The technical education department is seen as crucial to the country's industrialisation programme towards the year 2020, especially in high technology. And the government has promised a better focus and enhanced effort in producing more students in science and technology.
The special education department shows the government is sensitive towards the development of a caring society, and recognises the need for special education for those who require it, said Najib. The moral and spiritual department will ensure that matters such as moral and human development are handled comprehensively and in an integrated manner.
The next stage in the restructuring of Malaysian education will involve officials "down the line".