Name: Nursakinah Md Salleh
Research PhD in Adult Education and Lifelong Learning
Nursakinah was a teacher at a community college in Malaysia and taught traditional post-secondary students. She was also an educator and organiser for a lifelong learning programme at the college where she taught much older students from the local community. She found this a very interesting and very different teaching experience as compared to teaching traditional learners. Prior to coming to the college, many of her students had no idea that lifelong learning was even an option, and that it was possible to become a student at any age.
Malaysia is still developing its lifelong learning programmes. Nursakinah decided to come to Warwick to study for her PhD, because Warwick has a whole area and centre focused on lifelong learning in a Higher Education setting, and this seemed like a great place for her to come and carry out her research. In addition to her PhD, Nursakinah also completed the Gateway to HE programme, which really helped build her confidence, and helped build her academic skills in an English setting. She was also able to take one module from the part-time Social Sciences degree.
Nursakinah completed both her degree and masters in Malaysia and had very limited experience studying in an international setting which meant that she felt that her first year was a struggle. She particularly struggled with the language barrier. However, she had very good support from her supervisor, colleagues as well as from the whole Centre for Lifelong Learning. She commented that her supervisor was also very encouraging whenever she felt she wasn't achieving enough, or when she was feeling down. She always left each meeting with more motivation, and a vision of how she could improve and progress.
Completing a PHD is a long 4-year journey, but she spent a lot of time in the designated PhD community spaces scattered around the university and in particular in the Wolfson Research Exchange space on the 3rd floor of the library. This allowed her to build friendships with other PhD students who were studying a wide range of subjects and who were from all over the globe. Nursakinah believed that they really supported and motivated one another.
Nursakinah is now back in Malaysia and is currently teaching at a polytechnic. She always intended on studying here with the eventual aim of returning to Malaysia with some policy suggestions for how to develop the adult learning programme in my own country. Having only just finished her PhD, she is hopeful that some of her findings will be published.
She has found that Malaysia’s lifelong learning policy is based around its economic determinism and its vision to become a developed country by 2020. However, she feels that this policy should place more emphasis on the social value of lifelong learning, and to the improved well-being it can bring to lifelong learners and communities. After having her paper published, she is hoping more doors and opportunities will open for her.