DAP is all for marks but ignores education imbalance, says ex-minister

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PETALING JAYA: A recent set of proposals by DAP to revamp the matriculation programme has been criticised by former higher education minister Mohamed Khaled Nordin, who says the party is pushing for total equality without understanding the philosophy behind the government’s allocation of quota for Malay and non-Malay students.

“It shows how much they do not understand or are intentionally trying not to understand about how education is not about achieving the highest marks,” said Khaled, who is also the Umno vice-president.

This comes amid a continuing debate over the government’s pre-university course which it said would allow easier access for Malay and Bumiputera school leavers to public universities.

DAP Youth recently urged the education ministry to consider streamlining the Higher School Certificate (STPM) with the matriculation programme, including ensuring that both follow the same grading system.

It also urged the government to consider taking the top 2,000 STPM achievers into public universities including the transfer of their cumulative credits.

Khaled said while he agrees with meritocracy in education, the government cannot ignore the poor who could be denied a chance to further their studies if such a system was in place.

“We cannot ignore the gaps in our society,” he said. “Do not allow policies that would benefit the rich and bright students while the less fortunate are not given a hand with such opportunities.”

He said any move to reform the government’s existing quota for higher education should be based on facts, including on the number of students who are denied places due to such a policy.

Last month, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said the 90:10 quota favouring Bumiputera students in matriculation programmes would be maintained, following calls to do away with the racial preference.

Putrajaya has since defended the quota system, with Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad saying it is to encourage more Bumiputera students to take up science-related degrees.