Malaysia and the United States have signed a new agreement for the re-establishment of the Malaysian-American Commission for Educational Exchange to improve educational programmes between the two nations.
The new agreement will enable Malaysia to play a more effective role as Malaysian board members will now be eligible to be elected as chairperson. Under current rules only board members who are US citizens can be chairperson.
Education minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak signed on behalf of Malaysia, while secretary of state Warren Christopher signed on behalf of the US.
The US-Malaysian commission was first set up in 1963. It was then called the Commission for Educational Exchange between the United States and the Federation of Malaya. Its existence has been renewed through the exchange of diplomatic notes over the years. The new agreement will operate for ten years.
The US secretary of state said that Malaysia was one of the top ten countries in terms of the number of students studying in US institutions. More than 100,000 Malaysians have studied in the US since 1963, most returning to make a significant contribution to the nation's economic development.
"Educational exchange is an important part of the dynamic relationship between the US and Malaysia, which includes a whole new range of technical and professional training programmes that are currently being negotiated," he said.
The Malaysian education minister said the exchange of students, academics and professionals had done much to enhance mutual understanding.
Under the new agreement MACEE will be allowed to receive funds from various sources besides the US government. It can now receive funds from both private and public sector sources to undertake programmes. Previously MACEE was funded by the US government through the United States International Communication Agency.