Pengenalan: Pendidikan pra-university = Pre-university education

“Pendidikan pra-university: untuk apa dan untuk siapa?” = “What (and whom) is pre-university education for?”

Baru-baru ini, kuota Matrikulasi dan pengiktirafan UEC menjadi topik perbincangan yang hangat. Kami di Dialog Pendidikan ingin melihat pendidikan pra-universiti ini dari sudut pandangan yang lebih luas – bukan sahaja isu dan dasar secara terperinci, tetapi juga matlamat pendidikan pra-universiti secara umum. Kami telah menjemput lima orang daripada pelbagai latar belakang untuk berkongsi pendapat mereka tentang soalan bulan ini: “Pendidikan pra-university: untuk apa dan untuk siapa?”

Amid recent debates about Matrikulasi quotas and UEC recognition, Dialog Pendidikan would like to take a step back in the pre-university discussion. Beyond the specific issues and policies, we would like to think about the broader goals of pre-university education in Malaysia. We have invited five people from diverse backgrounds to share their thoughts on this month’s question: “What (and whom) is pre-university education for?”  


Aizuddin Mohamed AnuarAizuddin_cropped

Aizuddin Mohamed Anuar is a DPhil in Education candidate and Clarendon scholar at the University of Oxford.

In Malaysia, pre-university education bridges secondary education—which terminates with SPM—and university education. If we see pre-university education as a ticket to a university education that provides the skills for jobs and subsequent social mobility, then the government must strive to make it accessible for all, especially for historically disadvantaged groups. The matrikulasi program was founded on this logic at the turn of the millennium, focusing on bumiputera students. In 2003/2004, a 10% quota for matrikulasi admissions was introduced for non-bumiputera students.

Fast-forward to Malaysia Baru, this quota and the essence of matrikulasi are questioned with heightened passion, in relation to the higher rigour of STPM as well as issues of social justice and meritocracy in public university admissions. I am more concerned with social justice than meritocracy, because the latter is often perceived simplistically and can mask broader social disadvantages.

In relation to this issue and many others, the question that we must confront honestly is this: whom should the government prioritise for social mobility?

  1. The bumiputera as a whole regardless of socio-economic background
  2. The socio-economically disadvantaged regardless of ethnicity

My firm answer is B. There will be many that answer A: it is important to engage in empathetic and informed dialogue to further understand the reasoning tied to this response. Otherwise, we mistake superficial solutions as substitutes for confronting the core beliefs we hold about what it means to be Malaysian. Political will is especially key to this dialogue.

Nota daripada penyunting: untuk maklumat yang lebih lanjut tentang sejarah program Matrikulasi, layari artikel Soscili ini.


Esther Sinirisan ChongEsther_cropped

Seorang budak kampung yang berasal dari Sabah. Berpendapat bahawa polisi merupakan penentu kemakmuran dan keharmonian negara.

Bagi pendapat saya, pra-U adalah untuk pelajar yang ingin melanjutkan pengajian degree. Namun bukan semua pelajar dapat meneruskan impian ini. Sebagai seorang budak kampung dari Sabah (negeri yang termiskin di Malaysia) dan bekas pelajar sekolah menengah di sekolah bantuan kerajaan, STPM dan Matrikulasi merupakan program pra-u yang mampu ‘dimimpikan’.

Terutamanya program matrikulasi kerana ia merupakan pra-u yang dapat menjamin peluang kemasukan Universiti sama ada dalam atau luar negara dan kemungkinan ditawarkan ke kursus pilihan pertama di universiti awam adalah tinggi. Di samping itu, elaun bulanan diberikan sepanjang tempoh pengajian. Bagi pelajar daripada golongan B40, ini merupakan salah satu peluang yang terbaik untuk mereka. Jika mengatakan pendidikan pra-u seperti program matrikulasi adalah untuk memperkasa golongan berpendapatan rendah adalah betul kerana ia dijamin dengan dasar pengambilan yang memperuntukan 60% tempat kepada pelajar dari golongan B40. Cuma dasar pengambilan pelajar matrikulasi ini dipersoalkan dan menjadi viral apabila dasar pengambilan ke program ini telah dipolitikkan dengan isu kaum (kuota Bumiputera) yang dilihat tidak adil terhadap sesetengah pelajar bukan bumiputera yang juga mendapat keputusan yang cemerlang dalam peperiksaan SPM.

Perlu diingatkan bahawa pendidikan boleh membina insan yang berbudaya dan berilmu. Demikian pendidikan adalah diperlukan untuk semua lapisan masyarakat. Namum, hakikatnya adalah bukan semua pelajar adanya peluang memasuki universiti. Terutamanya di negara membangun seperti Malaysia, jaminan pendidikan golongan B40 adalah harus diutamakan.


Cheah Kok HinKok Hin_cropped

Kok Hin taught English for 2 years in SMK Pendamaran Jaya, Klang. He is a co-founder of Closing The Gap, an organisation that helps bright Malaysian students to access top universities.

When it comes to pre-university education in Malaysia, I believe the issue that we should really be focusing on is the STPM programme. I find it very alarming how our default and most easily-accessible pre-university programme has now become the last-choice option for many, if not most, Malaysian students.

When I chose to do the UEC for pre-university, I was aware of the pros and cons of that choice — while UEC was desired by many top private local universities and foreign universities, I was essentially ruling myself out of entry to public universities in the future. After finishing UEC, I was fortunate enough to gain entry into a private local university along with funding from my parents.

I am very aware that this is a privilege not enjoyed by many. For example, many students that Closing The Gap works with are forced to pass up great pre-university opportunities merely due to the lack of funding, and are subsequently disappointed that they are “forced” to settle for the STPM programme. Yet, I find it strange and sad how the STPM programme, despite its legacy and academic rigour, has fallen out of favour by both students and higher education institutions alike.

There is much to be desired in how issues related to pre-university such as Matrikulasi and UEC are hotly debated amongst the public and our leaders. However, until we are aware of and proactively tackle the issues regarding STPM, we will not be able to provide the secure, excellent pre-university pathway that our students deserve.

Editor’s note: for another perspective, watch this Ed Omnia video on why some parents prefer the UEC.


Pravindharan BalakrishnanPravin_cropped

Pravindharan Balakrishnan kini menyambung belajar pada peringkat master (Cultural and Education Policy Studies) di Loyola University Chicago di bawah biasiswa Fulbright. Beliau pernah mengajar Bahasa Inggeris di Besut, Terengganu selama 5 tahun.

Pada pertengahan tahun 2007, saya ditawarkan belajar di sebuah Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) di Kedah. Kohort saya terdiri daripada 4 pelajar India, 6 pelajar Cina, dan 46 pelajar Melayu. Pada bulan Disember, disebabkan oleh isu-isu agama, isu perobohan kuil, dan kelemahan politikus berbangsa India, timbullah perhimpunan HINDRAF yang menggemparkan negara. Pada tahun berikutnya, iaitu 2008, 8 pelajar India telah ditawarkan belajar di IPG saya di bawah program yang sama. Persoalan yang tertimbul pada saya pada waktu itu ialah – adakah perhimpunan HINDRAF telah mempengaruhi peningkatan kadar tawaran ini? Saya masih tidak tahu.

Namun demikian, fast forward 11 tahun, perpindahan kuasa pada PRU 2018 telah melahirkan optimisme baru dalam kalangan masyarakat India di Malaysia. Dengan kehadiran 4 ahli politik di kabinet dan 16 ahli parlimen berbangsa India, ia memberikan harapan kepada masyarakat India bahawa suara mereka tidak lagi terpinggir.

Tetapi, pada 2019, masyarakat India merasa dianayai kerana jumlah pengambilan pelajar India untuk program matrikulasi adalah sekitar 700 sahaja, kurang daripada 2,200 tempat yang ditawarkan pada tahun sebelumnya. Sekali lagi HINDRAF bangkit, kali ini bersama badan NGO lain seperti Malaysian Association of Indian University Graduates (MAIUG). Mereka menuntut peruntukan tempat matrikulasi yang berpatutan. Akhirnya, kerajaan menambahkan penempatan matrikulasi daripada 25,000 kepada 40,000, tetapi nisbah 90:10 untuk pengambilan Bumiputera: bukan Bumiputera tidak diubah.

Jadi, persoalan yang perlu dijawab ialah, patutkah kemasukan ke program pra-universiti seperti matrikulasi ditentukan berdasarkan merit? Soalan ini memang rumit dan terdapat pelbagai sudut pandangan yang sah. Bagaimanapun, masyarakat India melihat pendidikan sebagai ubat mujarab untuk segala masalah sosial yang menimpa mereka. Jadi, apakah masa depan masyarakat India, terutamanya golongan miskin bandar, dalam hal ini? They stand nowhere dan akan sentiasa terumbang-ambing walaupun suara masyarakat India telah tiba di parlimen dan kabinet Malaysia.


Tiong Ngee DerkDerk_cropped

Formerly an English teacher, Tiong Ngee Derk now does research at SMKs in Malaysia as part of his doctoral studies with the University of Cambridge.

To frame the discussion, I think we first need to decide what ‘university education’ is, as distinct from other kinds of education. My understanding is that traditionally, a university degree is distinct in that it suggests a kind of academic literacy: the ability to read, conduct, and synthesise one’s own original research. This is why the difference between a degree and a diploma is often a requirement to write a thesis, proof that you have some capacity to extend the boundaries of knowledge. I think it’s important for a developing society to have a critical mass of ‘legit’ university-education people, but of course this is only one category out of the broad gamut of competencies needed for a prospering society.

Based on my experience working with schoolteachers and IPTA students, my hunch is that university enrolments may have been too aggressively expanded without a commensurate focus on what’s going on in schools before pre-U, and at the detriment of the legitimate pursuit of non-university pathways to careers (e.g. TVET, Polytechnics).

Moreover, I suspect a serious mismatch between the skills assessed at SPM-level (favouring test-taking, memorisation, conformity etc.) versus the dispositions and higher-order skills which are the domain of universities (like independent thought, academic research, critical engagement in scholarly discourse, etc.). This may explain why many lecturers I meet feel they can’t treat their students ‘like adults’ and have to lead them in a watered-down curriculum. The unfortunate outcome is that ‘university education’ is less able to serve its social function.


Jadi, pendidikan pra-university: untuk apa dan untuk siapa? Kongsi pendapat anda di bawah (nama, e-mel, dan website tidak wajib), mengikut polisi komen kami.

Minggu depan, kami akan memetik beberapa komen yang menarik ke dalam post baru. Sementara itu, komen daripada pembaca lain juga terdapat di Facebook page kami. Terima kasih!

So, what (and whom) is pre-university education for? Share your thoughts below, and please remember to follow our comments policy. (It is not compulsory to include your name, email, and website in order to comment.)

Next week, we will feature some of the most interesting comments in a new post. You can also read more comments from other readers on our Facebook page. Thank you!

Comments

  1. I felt that A Levels didn’t prepare me well for university in the UK because it’s too exams-based.

  2. I felt the IB curriculum I did was more progressive than my current university – I had to do a thesis as part of the course.

  3. I felt stuff I did at Foundation was taken more seriously compared to university – I was at HELP for both. For example, plagiarism and submitting work on time was taken more seriously at foundation compared to uni.

  4. STPM prepared me for university really well. I felt my STPM teachers were more effective compared to my lecturers at university.

  5. My friends who went through matriculation struggled academically to adapt compared to myself and friends who went through STPM. My lecturers also prefer STPM students compared to matriculation students. However, matriculation students adapt better to university life in terms of being away from home.

  6. I did STPM in Science in English, and had no issues because I was at a very good school in KL. The teachers need further training to be better equipped – there doesn’t seem to be specialised training. The teachers I had at Form 6 were senior (5 years at least) and all had a Master degree, but that doesn’t mean you are necessarily good – I had to teach my teachers sometimes.

  7. I practiced papers from A Levels, STPM and matriculation, and I found that A Levels was more open and pushed your critical thinking. STPM has rigour in terms of questions’ difficulty in terms of technicality, matriculation is sort of in between the two.

  8. I wonder what was the evolution of the history of Malaysian education and how did Higher School Certificate/STPM come about – definitely an information gap in order to better understand what is the relevance of pre-university.

  9. I’m curious about what narratives people carry with them when it comes to choosing pre-university options. In my context, STPM was considered the last choice because of the use of BM and how difficult it is to sit for.

  10. Taking a step back, I felt SPM better prepared me for pre-university compared to my peers who took O Levels before going into A Levels. For STPM, perhaps part of the deterrent is how long the course is in comparison to other options.

  11. To some extent, I agree with what Jun Wu said about his experience of practising the A-level paper and STPM (i.e. the A level was more open). However, after a few papers, the A-level papers (for the subjects that i was doing, maths, further math, chem and phys,) seem to repeat itself (or at least the questions’ styles are very similar)and did not really push towards critical thinking. However, in term of preparing for university, I think A level prepared me more on practical works, as there is a paper based on real lab work. I personally thinks that if one want to push the thinking in the subject, there is always an option of looking into the practice questions from the olympiad competition.

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