Today is a great day for Optometry in Twintech International University College of Technology. Today we are celebrating the coming back of our first batch of semester 8 students from Chennai India, after completing their 4 months clinical optometry training at Sankara Nethralaya Eye Hospital in Chennai India. Today we are also celebrating the good news conveyed to us by the panel of MQA that has visited our Faculty on the 13 and 14 of April 2011, which is yesterday and day before yesterday that Insha’Allah we get back our Accreditation that has been uphold since 15 July 2010. The proposal will be submitted to the Joint Technical committee which probably with have their meeting either in May or Jun 2011. After the meeting, a formal letter will be written by MQA to our University, to award back our accreditation. Today we are also celebrating the good news that they will also propose to JTC that our semester 8 students can graduate after we are awarded the accreditation. Not the least today we are also celebrating my one year service with Twintech, initially as the Head of Programme and later on as the Dean of the Faculty. I started to work with Twintech International University College of Technology as Head of Programme of Optometry on the 15 April 2010. When I started to take the post as the Head of the Programme, there were not a single optometrist was with me in the Faculty. The Faculty at that time was named as Faculty of Optometry, Pharmacy and Health Sciences and the Dean of the Faculty at that time was Mr. Yusuf Hussein a registered pharmacy. I still remember the first day I entered my room as the Head of the Programme of Optometry at Twintech which is on the 15 April 2010. The room was not cleaned and the lecturer who has moved to SEGI College has not moved all of his belonging from the room. Later in the evening the lecturer concerned came to the Faculty and moved all his properties.
I was told by the management that MQA is coming on the 21 April 2010 and I have to recruit at least 4 new lecturers before 21 April 2010. I have to recruit lecturers with Master Degrees in Optometry in hardly one week’s time. It is an incredible and almost impossible task for anyone to do. I was also told by the management of Twintech that students were coming to register on the 23 April and the class must start on the 26 April 2010. Acting Vice Chancellor at that time, Professor Ir Dr Noridah had warned me that students will complain to Ministry of Higher Education, in case we did not start the class on 26 April. I make several phone calls to some potential optometrists whom I think would like to become lecturers at Twintech and some of them respond to my request. Unfortunately two of them that have responded to my request have not completed their M.Sc programme at UKM and one of them has only a Master degree but not in the field of optometry. With my limited network in Optometry, I managed to get only three Optometrists but without a Master Degree in Optometry to sign the letter of acceptance to become lecturers at Twintech Faculty of Optometry. When the names of these lecturers were presented to the panels of MQA that came in April 21, 2010, it was out rightly rejected by them. I was given the task of recruiting lecturers with at least Master Degree in Optometry.
I was wondering how I would get lecturers when none I could get in Malaysia. The country that I have in mind and the school of optometry in that country is recognized by MOC India. In the whole of India there is only one school of optometry recognized by MOC and it is Elite School of Optometry, Chennai, India. Why the management of Twintech was unable to solve the problems? They cannot solve the problem because Prof Azrin and all the lecturers are not resigning all at one time but by stages. They started resigning from august 2009 to March2010. All of a sudden the management of Twintech found out that there were no more optometry lecturers in Twintech Faculty of Optometry. The Dean and all the lecturers want to keep it as secret and Twintech Director of Human Resource Department was not aware of the grand plan that all of them want to leave Twintech and migrate together with all the students to SEGI College and open another school of optometry. The last lecturer to resign from Twintech was Mr. Iskandar. Although efforts are made by, the Director of Human Resource Department Mr. Nasir to recruit lecturers from Malaysia, Nigeria and India but the effort was in vain. Bad news were spreading like wild fire that Twintech was not a good pay master. Many optometrists who have decided to join Twintech have to abandon the idea when they were told by the rumours that Twintech is a bad pay master. Because of these rumours spreading the effort of Twintech to recruit lecturers became even more difficult and almost impossible. The news spread as far as India. When I went to India to recruit lecturers in India, one of the questions asked, would we be paid by Twintech?
That was the dark and turbulence period of Twintech Optometry, a period of uncertainty and restlessness to both students, and the managements. I still remember the scenario of the meeting when I had to talk to the students during the MQA visit to Twintech on the 21 April 2010. I could see from the student faces and behaviours that the students were not happy with the management of Twintech and they accused Twintech to be the root cause of the incidence that had been fallen them. It looked to me, at that time that the students had no confidence at all with the management of Twintech yet they had no choice but to remain in Twintech. Some of the students are in semester 8 and 7 and they had no choice but to remain in Twintech if they want to graduate. They cannot go to other Optometry School because it involved credit transfer and moreover no Optometric Institutions in Malaysia was willing or able to accept them as their students. Students in semester one and two at that time were ready to leave Twintech and moved to SEGI College at any time, but unfortunately for them at that time, the optometry course at SEGI had not get the permission from Ministry of Higher Education to start the programme. One morning one of my lecturers told me that there were only three students, instead of 22 in the class of semester 2. Later on I was informed that that they were leaving Twintech and were waiting to join SEGI at any time. This situation had made all the students to become angry, frustrated and rebellious to the managements of Twintech. Almost every day Twintech Optometry students will lodge complains to the officers of Ministry of Higher Education and many times the management of Twintech particularly Professor Noridah was called by the Ministry for enquiry and explanation. Once Professor Noridah told me that she was so ashamed to be called by the Ministry for so many times and she said to me that she almost lost her face. During the Dark Period, optometry students of Twintech continue to send complains via SMS to the Ministry officers to the extent one of the Ministry officer told me to do something so that no more complains will come to them. I told them that it was normal for students who were in such situation to complain. One of the officers of the Ministry told me, she had become so tired of entertaining the students complain from Twintech. Because of the students complain, Ministry of Higher Education had to send daily one officer to monitor the situation at Twintech and later on they made daily phone calls requesting reports from me about the progress of the Faculty. On 3 Jun 2010, with the advice of JTC, MQA hold our accreditation.
Around the 16 Jun, Mr Selvanathan and I went to Chennai to recruit lecturers and with the grace of Allah, we managed to obtain four lecturers who promised to join Twintech School of Optometry in September 2010 and at the same time, we managed to get another lecturer from Nigeria who promised to join us in November 2011. With five foreign lecturers and me, the total number of lecturers were six and with MQA requirement of students to lecturers ratio of 15; 1, we have comply with one of the requirement of accreditation. MQA panel of accreditation came again to Twintech on the 21 and 22 October 2010 but at that time only 3 of the lecturers had come and because of that we have not complied with the requirements of students to lecturer ratio and the accreditation was still being uphold. On 13 and 14 April 2011, MQA panels came again to Twintech and this time all the lecturers had come, all the instruments had been bought and they are satisfied with the positive developments of the Faculty. The Head of the panel, Dr. Zanorah told us that the Panel would make the suggestion to the Joint Technical Committee, which probably will have their meeting on Jun 2011, to give back our accreditation.
During our turbulence period we have depended so much with part-time lecturers and I wish to convey my greatest gratitude to them for helping us to go through that uncertain period. There are not many optometrists with postgraduate degrees in Malaysia who are willing to become lecturers. One of the reasons optometrists are not keen to become lecturers is because of the lower pay given to them when compared to the pay given to optometrists working in the private sector. Although optometrist in the private sectors have to work for longer hours, but because of the higher salary when compare to lecturers many new graduates prefer to work in the private sectors rather than in the academic institutions. When fresh graduates work in the private sector they can earn more than RM 3000.00, so the choice to become a lecturer with salary much lower than RM 3000.00 has made to become lecturers their second choice. The salary scales of optometrists and other professionals as lecturers should be different and higher from the lecturers of the non-professional. Because of the present practice either in government or in the private sectors to generalised salary to be the same for all lecturers, not many professionals are keen to become lecturers. Now Malaysia have about 7 optometric schools and all of them are in Kuala Lumpur. With the present situation of lecturers’ scarcity, can all these institutions that offer optometric education, survive in the futures? Salary for tutor or lecturers in Optometry should be higher than others, irrespective whether they are locals or an expatriate. There are many optometrists in Malaysia who had postgraduates’ degrees and with higher salary scales; they may be interested to become lecturers.
Besides having 6 lecturers Twintech Faculty Optometry also have 4 optometrists cum tutor and preparation is being made to send them for postgraduate studies either at UKM or overseas. We hope the bitter and sad experience that has been faced by Twintech Faculty Optometry will not happen again to Twintech Optometry School and to other optometry schools or other educational institutions in the whole world. It has never happen before anywhere in the world that the running of an academic school collapses because all their lecturers including the Dean of the Faculty move to another school, all at one time. It was really a tragedy and it caused fear, unpleasant situation to students, their parents, and the members of Twintech management and Ministry of Higher Education. The lecturers and the Dean who has caused this turbulence situation to Twintech may be happy with their new posts in SEGI but the amount of sorrow and unhappiness created to others because of their actions are not worth the happiness. Allah is great and Allah helps those who were subjugated to injustice actions by others. Now we will see and all of them who want Twintech Optometry to collapse will see that Twintech Faculty of Optometry will rise again and will rise to become one of the best optometry schools in the world.
Whoever wants to do become optometrists can apply to study in Twintech Faculty of Optometry. You can open the website of Twintech International University College and apply online or you may call me directly at 019 3196019 or Assoc .Prof Selvanathan at 0176041857. Prerequisite to study Optometry at Twintech is STPM with 3 principles of science subjects, Science Matriculation with CGPA more than 2.5 or you have just finished SPM and you are a science students and you pass SPM with 5 credits and you want to become optometrist, you can apply to enter Foundation in Science at Twintech and when you pass Foundation Science with CGPA more than 2.5, you can do Optometry at Twintech. Last and not least, if you and your friends want to become Optometrist, study at Twintech. Current Semester will start end of April and the next intake will be in early September. Call now and register.
Prof. Dr. Nasoha Saabin
Dean of Faculty of Optometry
International University College of Technology Twintech
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia