Think tank man calls for end to matriculation polemics

Former Penang executive councillor Toh Kin Woon says the government should focus on reforming the education system.

PETALING JAYA: Former Penang executive councillor Toh Kin Woon has urged the government to move away from polemics on matriculation programme quotas and keep its focus on what he calls “genuine” education reforms.

Toh, now a research fellow with the Penang Institute, said all Malaysians, regardless of race, saw education as a major issue.

“At some point, we have to end the debate surrounding the matriculation issue and move on with the more important issue, which is to reform our education system,” he said.

“There is no denying that the quality of our education system is declining.”

The government’s recent decision to retain the quota for Bumiputeras in matriculation programmes has stirred up some debate.

Education Minister Maszlee Malik recently linked the decision to Bumiputeras’ lack of opportunities for employment in the private sector, saying some companies preferred to hire Mandarin speakers. This raised the ire of various groups, including MCA.

Toh, a former lecturer, said the government should work towards having a single examination for entry into public universities.

“Students should be evaluated on their merits for university entry,” he said. “The moment the government introduces the ethnic factor into the intake, it is bound to create dissatisfaction.”

He said Maszlee, since assuming his current position, had not talked much about improving the education system to keep up with challenges such as the use of technology, including artificial intelligence, in the manufacturing field.

“The minister ought to pay attention to areas in which students must have a strong foundation in science and mathematics,” he said. “He must look at ways to improve the quality of teachers teaching these subjects.”