He was one of the Malayan teachers trained in Brinsford and Kirkby who understood the meaning of nationalism and patriotism against the background and experiences of other societies, such as old Europe, emergent Afro-Asian and South American nations. They understood the horrors of the World War 2 and Cold War.
He understood the significant role of education and the development of literacies, competencies, capacities, talents, and other human potential.
He understood what it means to be in gratitude and to be aware of the privilege to obtain the highest level of education when millions of people were illiterate, uninformed and even ignorant.
He was one of the few selected to pursue his master’s and doctoral degrees at Stanford University, one of the Ivy League universities in the United States. The passion for learning came with an encyclopedic mind. His experiences fostered the cultivation of a positive, open, inclusive and versatile mindset.
Professor Hussein had taught in schools and universities. He was involved in the training of primary and secondary school principals, religious school heads and top civil servants.
He was a headmaster, a curriculum developer, a researcher, a policymaker, a university lecturer, a prolific writer, a consultant, a public intellectual and a civil servant.
He had supervised many postgraduate students. He was a profound thinker and a role model for his peers, as well as the next generation of educators.
Among the important positions he held were the Education Ministry’s Educational Planning and Research Division director and Institute Aminuddin Baki director. He was also an associate professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia and professor at University of Malaya.
Professor Hussein was a loyal civil servant who was proud to serve the nation with love and honour. He was loyal to his peers, colleagues and staff. He was a committed leader of professional organisations and played an important role in the establishment of professional societies, associations and clubs in the country.
In the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco), Paris, where he served after retirement, he did Malaysia proud by planning and formulating the Unesco agenda. He also wrote the book, The Mandate of Unesco and the Challenge of Globalisation.
He had also written other books. His magnum opus, The Mission of Public Education in Malaysia — the Challenge of Transformation, is one that should be read by ministers, parliamentarians, academicians, stakeholders and leaders from all domains. He had written hundreds of papers and presented keynote addresses at home and abroad.
He was a gentle leader, with the highest ethics and integrity. He chose the way of wisdom in resolving problems.
His priority was education. Among policymakers, he was the lead thinker, with powerful conceptual capacity and strong imagination regarding the future.
He served both the Education and Higher Education ministries, indeed a unique achievement. He was awarded Tokoh Guru for his lifetime contributions.
He thought profoundly about the aims and values of education. He was clear that theories of education should be derived from our philosophy of life. Interacting with him was like interacting with a kind, considerate and inspiring philosopher.
With his passing, the profession has lost a passionate professional; the nation an exemplary highly-educated citizen; the academic world a scholar; the educational bureau an experienced and dedicated civil servant; the education research enterprise its lead researcher; colleagues a fine friend; and young educators a motivator, mentor, and a role model.
The study of his works and his biography will inspire colleagues and the next generation of scholars.
In tangible and intangible ways, he had contributed to national development — understanding profoundly the nature of a united nation and society to be developed through education. When educators die, they leave behind their students, their knowledge, their legacy and heritage.
PROFESSOR DATUK DR IBRAHIM AHMAD BAJUNID