The issue of STPM top scorers unable to gain entry into university of their choice or worse, secure a course that they’re interested in will definitely crop up every year. And as usual, the government will come out with various excuses and promises to ensure that the same old problem will not repeat itself the following year. And as usual again, they failed. Although the government might do a few cosmetic changes here and there, but yet, the core problem is left unsolved.
STPM is often dubbed as the hardest examination in Malaysia, if not in the world. One of the reasons is that students only have one major exam where they have to blurt out everything that they have learned for the past one and a half year. However, this problem may come to an end when the Education Ministry has decided to introduce modular system in accessing the students starting year 2012. Students would then be evaluated at the end of every semester. There will be a total of three semesters.
But that is for those that are entering Lower 6 next year. How about STPM students that will be entering university this coming session? They have voiced out their dissatisfactions in Facebook and newspapers. Similar to their seniors, they claimed that they have been treated unfairly compared to those Matriculation (I will use ‘Matric’ from now on) students. My question: Is it fair to use Matric students as the punching bag for their failure to obtain their first choice of university and course? I do agree to a certain extent.
For STPM students, Matric is nothing more than a factory producing lots of pampered, handicapped students with CGPA 4.0 and direct entry into any top university in Malaysia. As an analogy, getting perfect pointer in Matric is something akin to counting one to ten without making any mistake. It’s so straightforward and those that failed to do so, are err…idiots? This is pure stereotyping.
The fact that 90% of Matric places are reserved for bumiputras does not help much in correcting this misconception. Cases of straight As non-bumis students unable to secure a place in Matric while those bumis with 7Bs or Cs are easily offered a place have been raised again and again with boring regularity. The government is being accused of acting unjustly and exploiting the Article 153 of the Federal Constitution. Is it true?
I admit that there are a few serious flaws in the Matric programme that are too glaring to be ignored. The entry quota is one of them besides the relatively easier syllabus. It is an open secret too that Matric students have an edge over their STPM counterparts for entry into public universities. Although the government has claimed that Matric is on par with STPM, we are fully aware that it is fallacious. They should have one same, level playing field.
However, STPM does have its own advantages too. STPM is internationally recognized which means that those top scorers actually have a chance to pursue their studies abroad. Students do have a more flexible timetable and more time to actually digest and understand those textbooks as thick as phone directories. They can even opt for tuition classes to brush up their understanding on certain subjects.
In order to solve this inequality, the quota system must be gradually phased out or at least, be set at a more reasonable ratio. The students intake should be done in a more transparent manner. Matric should be a place where the best brains all over Malaysia gather and grow. No longer as a back-door entry into top universities or critical courses anymore. Does the Prime Minister have the political will to make this unpopular decision?
Perhaps, this issue will come to a temporary rest after a few weeks of the new university intake. But would it crop again next year? With the same government with the same ‘tak apa’ mentality, bet on it!