PETALING JAYA: Academic Teo Kok Seong says the matriculation programme was created to boost the participation of Bumiputera students in public universities, which became a priority after the New Economic Policy was introduced in 1970.
Matriculation is an alternative to the Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) which is tougher and harder to score in, the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia professor said.
“Matriculation is shorter and easier than STPM. It is easier to score in matriculation,” he told FMT, adding that matriculation is for one year while STPM students must go through two years of studies.
The government recently came under fire after it was revealed that 90% of the matriculation seats would go to Bumiputeras while the remainder would go to non-Bumiputeras.
Teo said Bumiputeras had an alternative and easier path to sign up for Science courses in public universities compared with non-Bumiputeras through the matriculation pre-university programme.
Other than matriculation, Bumiputera students have the option of sitting for a foundation course called Asasi as a pathway to various courses in public universities.
Teo said even though the policy is unfair with two different sets of education pathways for Malays and non-Malays, it must be recognised that it is part of the affirmative action plan for Malays.
“Initially 100% of the seats were given to Bumiputeras and slowly the government opened 5% of the seats to non-Malays. Now it is 10%,” he said.
Teo said non-Malays who managed to get into matriculation had shared their experiences, stating “they had an easier life and they didn’t have to study so hard” because Bumiputera students did not score high marks.
“But non-Malay students in STPM Science stream, they have a hard time because the exams are difficult,” he said.
He said those who enter the matriculation programme are normally those who score 4 to 6As, and that this applies to non-Malay students, too.
“They are average students, so the gap in the results (between Malays and non-Malays) is not big,” he added.
Teo said Malay students were a lot more hardworking and smarter before the affirmative action plan was implemented.
Now, he said, the spoon-feeding culture had created a “cukup makan” mentality where students are able to get university degrees even though they might not be competent.
He said he hoped the Pakatan Harapan government would review the education system so that the Malays would become more competent and competitive.
“The affirmative action for education can still be there but it needs evaluation and only the good students should be in the matriculation programme.”