Seminars (2011-2012)


The Refugee Situation in Malaysia : Challenges and Opportunities 

Alan Vernon, UNHCR
16 May 2012, 10.00 - 11.30 

CRICE, Faculty of Education (Bilik Cemerlang), University of Malaya
Even though refugees are a global phenomenon requiring cooperation between states, and the fact that customary international law requires Governments to protect and assist refugees, the Malaysian Government has not yet put in place a legal and administrative framework for managing refugees. In the absence of the Government doing so, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), performs a range of state functions for protecting and supporting refugees in Malaysia with the assistance of a small number of NGOs and concerned citizens who provide volunteer support.
As a result of the current policies, Malaysia presents a challenging and difficult environment for refugees in which basic survival is difficult as they cannot work legally and are at risk of arrest as illegal migrants.The situation is particularly difficult for refugee children. In spite of the Government of Malaysia having signed the Convention on the Rights of the Child which obligates the Government to ensure education for all primary-aged children in Malaysia, no refugee children are allowed to attend Government schools. Of the 20,000 refugee children in Malaysia, 12,000 of them are school-aged. What education is available is provided by UNHCR in partnership with the refugee communities and NGO partners. At present only 7,000 refugee children are participating in the existing, very basic education programmes that are available.
Malaysia continues to be criticized internationally for its treatment of refugees. Is such criticism fair? What can be done to improve the situation of refugees in Malaysia? What can be done to better educate the public about the difference between refugees and migrants? What can be done to ensure that refugee children have access to education of appropriate quality? Each of these questions presents both challenges and opportunities. This presentation will suggest how the Malaysian Government can transform its current approach to refugees in a way that will improve the situation of refugees, save money, generate good will and bring credit to the country for its humanitarian generosity.

About the Speaker

Alan Vernon is the Representative for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Malaysia. Prior to his current assignment, Mr. Vernon was the Director for Organizational Development and Management in UNHCR Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland. Mr. Vernon previously served as UNHCR Representative in Sri Lanka as well as field assignments in Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Malaysia, and Thailand.




Panel discussion on 'International Perspectives on the Idea of Quality in Education'
CRICE, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya
9 March 2012, 15.00 - 17.30 
Quality in respect of education is an elusive goal. It is certainly not to do solely with empirical achievements such as test scores. Since formal education in schools and other institutions is only part of any individual's learning, this makes quality even more elusive. According to the EFA Global Monitoring Report (GMR) of 2005 entitled 'The Quality Imperative', two principles characterise most attempts to define quality in education: (a) engendering the cognitive development of the learner, and (b) promoting values and attitudes of responsible citizenship. We are now in a global situation where education is more than ever a prime factor in the sustainable development of all. This implies not only national citizenship but international citizenship. A vital quality of education must be that it enables cross-national and cross-cultural understanding. This involves the development of tools, through all forms of learning, that lead to collaborative problem-solving in the interests of all humanity. International and comparative education study at all levels from school to university is a necessary component of learning if the necessary degree of co-operation is to be achieved.


Educational Research:  the Need for Philosophy
Richard Pring, University of Oxford
8 March 2012, 15.00 - 17.00 

CRICE, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya
There are many kinds of educational research - empirical investigation into 'what works', narrative accounts of learners and teachers, lessons form comparative studies, historical explanations of the present arrangements, and so on. But rarely are the deeper philosophical issues explored which are assumed but not taken into account in these different kinds of research. This paper aims to demonstrate the key issues in ethics, epistemology, social philosophy and the philosophy of mind which are assumed but rarely addressed.

About the Speaker

Richard Pring has been a civil servant at the then Ministry of Education (UK), taught in comprehensive schools, lecturer in curriculum studies at the London Institute of Education, and Professor of Education and Faculty Dean at the University of Exeter. From 1989 to 2003 he was Professor of Educational Studies and Director of the Department at the University of Oxford. From 2003-2009 he led the £1 million review of 14-19 education and training for England and Wales. Recent books are 'John Dewey: philosopher of education for the 21st century' and 'Education for All: the future of education and training for 14-19 year olds'. His forthcoming book with Routledge is 'The Life and Death of Secondary education for All: Dream or Reality?'
Ph.L Gregorian University Rome, BA (Hons) London, PhD London, Hon D.Lit (Kent), Award of Distinction (Aga Khan University, Karachi)



Perspective on the Contribution of Higher Education to Education as a Humanitarian Response
Colin Brock, University of Oxford
8 March 2012, 10.00  - 12.00 

CRICE, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya
Higher Education, or the 'Tertiary Sector' is not usually immediately thought of in terms of educational responses to humanitarian crises. This presentation begins with a definition of what the speaker sees as comprising tertiary education, and that is 'anything' above, or subsequent to, secondary education. This is important because there are still many communities in the marginalised majority of the world's population that have little or no access to post- primary schooling, let alone secondary. The definition of 'humanitarian response' is then also discussed and it is made clear that a holistic response is favoured, not just responses to crises and emergencies, whether natural or man made. This approach is favoured because of the genuine concern of scientific experts as to the ability of the numerous and distinctive human communities of the planet Earth to all survive the twenty-first century. Universities especially, and to some extent all post-secondary education, stand between sustainable survival and development for all communities, and the 'tipping point' beyond which ability to protect biodiversity and atmospheric stability will not be likely. Universities are key because of their unrivalled research capacity, high level teaching and ICT networks which can connect the global and the local, transcend political boundaries, and counter the sterility of much of formal schooling. A humanitarian response to educational needs in this sense is vital to the survival of humanity.

About the Speaker

Colin Brock taught in high schools for nine years after graduating in geography and anthropology at the University of Durham. He then became a lecturer in geography at the University of Reading before being Education Officer for DfID in the Caribbean. After that he moved into international educational development as a lecturer at the University of Leeds, became Chair of the International Education Unit at the University of Hull for 15 years and for the last 20 years has lectured at the University of Oxford in Comparative and International Education. He has also been UNESCO Chair in Education as a Humanitarian Response since 2006. Dr Brock has worked for all the major development agencies in various parts of Africa, Latin America, South Asia and the tropical island zones, published about 30 books, over 100 chapters and articles and 25 research reports. His most recent publication is Education in South East Asia (Symposium Books, Oxford, 2011) , co-edited with Dr Lorraine Symaco.
BA and MA (Dunelm), MEd (Reading), PhD (Hull), PhD (Honoris Causa) (Kirovograd State Pedagogical University,Ukraine).



Comparative Education and Research Capacity Building Reflections on International Transfer and the Significance of Context
Michael Crossley, University of Bristol
7 March 2012, 15.00 - 17.00 

CRICE, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya
Recent years have seen a resurgence of interest in comparative and international education, along with a fundamental reconceptualisation of this distinctive multidisciplinary field of study. The nature and significance of these developments are explored with particular reference to their implications for broader research capacity building initiatives worldwide. In doing so, a critique of the uncritical international transfer of globally dominant research modalities and strategies is presented – along with arguments for increased attention to context sensitivity in both international development cooperation and educational research in general. Illustrative examples that support these arguments are drawn from the presenter's own research, and from related studies being carried out in Malaysia. In concluding, the strategic role of comparative research traditions and perspectives in a rapidly globalising world are highlighted, while supporting the promotion of new initiatives and research centres for comparative and international education

About the Speaker

Michael Crossley is Professor of Comparative and International Education, Director of the Research Centre for International and Comparative Studies at the Graduate School of Education, and Director of the Education in Small States Research Group (, University of Bristol, UK. He was Editor of the journal Comparative Education from 2004 to 2009 inclusive, and was Chair and Vice Chair of the British Association for International and Comparative Education (BAICE) from 2000 to 2004. He is a member of the Editorial Board for Comparative Education, the International Journal of Educational Development and Research in Post-compulsory Education, and is Founding Series Editor for the Bristol Papers in Education: Comparative and International Studies (Symposium Books, Oxford). Key research interests relate to: theoretical and methodological scholarship on the future of comparative and international education; the international transfer of educational policy and practice; educational research and evaluation capacity and international development cooperation: and educational development in small states. Professor Crossley has undertaken teaching, research and consultancy work in numerous countries worldwide, and has published widely in the field, including the book, Comparative and International Research in Education: Globalisation, Context and Difference (with Keith Watson) Routledge , 2003. Before moving to the University of Bristol, he was Associate Dean for Planning and Research at the University of Papua New Guinea. In 2005 he was elected as an Academician by the UK Academy for the Social Sciences (AcSS).
BEd(Keele), MA(Lond), PhD(LaT), FRSA, AcSS.



Comparative and International Education: Its Past, Present and Future 
Colin Brock, University of Oxford
16 November 2011, 10.00  - 12.00 

CRICE, Faculty of Education, University of Malaya 
The purpose of this presentation is to consider: why and how Comparative Education developed as one of the sub-disciplines of Educational Studies; how International Education came on board with it; what are the intellectual justifications for it; and what are the prospects for it in the future. From the first serious efforts of Michael Sadler in late-nineteenth century Britain, Comparative Education became established as one of the Foundations of Educational Studies in the 1930s and began to flourish in the 1960s in universities around the world. This was relatively short-lived in the West due to the economic crisis of the mid 1970s adversely affecting public spending on educational studies, and by radical changes in teacher training programmes. However, the family of comparative education societies has grown in an increasing number of countries around the world, and governments have become interested in international efforts at educational comparison such as TIMMS and PISA regarding schooling and international rankings of universities. Such attempts at international comparison present both problems and prospects for comparative education, while increasing poverty, malnutrition and health problems, as well as violent conflicts around the world, are a real challenge for international educational development. This presentation will consider the challenge of all these factors for the theoretical and methodological underpinning of comparative education and its significance in the role of education in enabling the human populations of the world survive the twenty-first century.

About the Speaker

Colin Brock is Senior Research Fellow in Comparative and International Education at the University of Oxford. Previously he has worked at the universities of Reading, Leeds and Hull an also around the world for all the main international development agencies and major NGOs. From 2005 to 2012 he was UNESCO Chair in Education as a Humanitarian Response at involved field projects in Thailand (Karen refugees from Myanmar); Sierra Leone ( post-civil war conflict issues ); Ukraine ( orphans and street children) and London ( refugee education). The final impact of the UNESCO Chair is a series of 15 books on Education as a Humanitarian Response (9 published 3 in printing). He is also series editor of Education Around the World (19 volumes, 5 published 7 in printing) the first ever global series in comparative and international education. Dr Brock is an Adjunct Professor of Education at the University of Malaya, working with the Centre for Research in International and Comparative Education (CRICE). He has supervised over 70 successful doctoral students and hundreds of masters dissertations, authored or edited over 30 books and published about 150 articles in journals and chapters in books.

Contact Details

Centre for Research in International and Comparative Education (CRICE)
Faculty of Education
University of Malaya
Kuala Lumpur 50603, Malaysia,

Tel: +603 7967 5101
Fax: +603 7967 3884
GPS: 3.1204585, 101.6524242