On the Beat | By Wong Chun Wai

All top-scorers should get in

The fact is that Form Six has lost its appeal. An SPM
student can enrol in a private college to do what is called a “foundation
year.'' The student then proceeds to the second year of the degree

Others qualify for a diploma before entering second year. On graduation, they
hold a diploma and a degree.

Sixth formers sit for the STPM exam at the end of two years of secondary school
education. After getting their results, they begin applying for places in local

Even if they have decent results, there is no guarantee of a place in
university. For non-Malays, competition is tough because of limited places
owing to the quota system.

Some of those who are successful are offered disciplines they are not
interested in or are over-qualified for.

I know of an arts student who was accepted into then Universiti Pertanian
Malaysia. It was miserable for her during the first few weeks because she was
in a science course.

Finally, she was accepted by Tunku Abdul Rahman College where she took up
accounting. Today, she is a qualified accountant.

If there had been no option available, she could have been a drop-out.

There is much that does not make sense in our education system, particularly
when 500 top-scorers can't get into university.

The problem has been aggravated because of the unusual number of students with
good results.

This situation is partly due to many students having skipped Remove Class,
resulting in more applicants.

Even TAR College has found that it cannot cope with the large number of

To complicate matters, it has been reported that there are 7,168 places for
bumiputras but there are not enough eligible students. There are now calls that
these vacancies be released to non-bumiputras.

The vacancies must have come about because bumiputra top-scorers would have
been offered scholarships or loans to study overseas.

In the case of non-bumiputras, matriculation courses had been exclusively for
bumiputras until a few years ago.

The controversy, which also occurred last year, could have been avoided if
there is fairness, flexibility and reasonable implementation of the quota

Of the 500 last year, only about 100 gained entry into local universities after
lodging appeals.

According to the MCA, which highlighted their plight, the 500 cases included 25
students who scored 10As, 59 with 9As, 80 with 8As, 79 with 7As, 57 with 6As and
60 with 5As.

The rights and privileges of bumiputras must not be questioned. The affirmative
action and quota system are necessary to help disadvantaged Malay students,
especially those from the rural areas.

But it is injustice when bright applicants are deprived of higher education on
the grounds that there are only limited places for a particular ethnic

If the Education Ministry officials have their way, they would want our
students to go through the two years of Form Six.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has given an assurance
that all top-scorers will get places in university.

Following complaints from many bright applicants, the ministry also announced
that those with 10As and above will get places but it was non-committal on
those with 9As and below.

The time has come for the Government to consider abolishing Form Six or
restricting it to one year of studies.

Today, many children begin pre-schooling as early as three years old. Most
children are able to read and write before they enter Year One.

If our children can begin Year One at the age of five or six, instead of the
present seven, they would be able to complete primary education by the time
they are 10.

Our youngsters can then complete their secondary education and subsequent
tertiary education earlier.

The Education Ministry needs to concentrate on the core subjects – particularly
Bahasa Melayu, English, Mathematics and Science – to give our students the
competitive edge.

Completing tertiary education earlier would help to boost our human

There is little point in burdening our students with too many subjects.

Worse still is for the education system to continue producing students with no
aptitude in mathematics or are unable to write and speak English

As nations become more competitive, it is more pertinent for our students to be
fluent in a third language with economic value.

Internet training, which is offered by many Chinese schools starting at Year
One, should be made compulsory for all.

Education today is no longer the business of the Government and educationists.
If we want to gear ourselves to face the impact of globalisation, we need to
rethink our mindset and policies.