UEC special review committee to submit report by end-October

(From left) UEC special review committee member Mohamad Raimi Abd Rahim, chairman Eddin Khoo and Dhong Zhong deputy president Tan Yew Sing.

PUTRAJAYA: The Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) special review committee said it had asked for more time to submit its report.

The special committee will be meeting MPs to get their views on Oct 16, its chairman Eddin Khoo told reporters today. He hoped to submit the report by the end of October.

At another function, Education Minister Maszlee Malik agreed that the committee needed more time. The UEC needed to conduct interviews with as many stakeholders as possible, he added.

Khoo said the committee had held 72 engagements with at least 500 individuals, involving civil society, youths, political parties, universities, and education excos in Sabah and Sarawak.

Khoo said that many perspectives on the UEC were contradictory and they were forced to find a meeting point for their conclusions and recommendations.

He added that there was a misconception that the task force started its work in October and clarified they actually started in January.

“From October 2018 to December 2018, the task force had to discuss our methodology,” he said.

Khoo also noted that the sentiments surfacing in the public sphere did not reflect the discussions during their interviews.

“Everyone was able to discuss in a mature way and this reflects to capacity of Malaysians to have very difficult conversations in a very mature way within a closed setting.”

Khoo also stressed that the UEC issue was complex and not simply an academic technicality, as argued by many parties.

“As much as we talk about the issue of the UEC, we are also forced to talk about the national education system,” he said.

“It is essentially an issue in which a certain type of system has to ‘enter’ another type of system, without any of the conditions or more technical issues being addressed,” he said.

Khoo added it has raised fundamental questions about the nature, system and philosophy of education in the country. All of the dimensions brought up during discussions will be elaborated in its report, he said.

He hoped the report will be made public.

He also said the UEC report was not a zero-sum game, and negotiations and deliberations between all parties were necessary to come to a consensus.

Patterns across all meetings

Khoo also highlighted some of the patterns present at all the sessions held with stakeholders.

He revealed that everybody, regardless of political leanings, were concerned about the perceived failure of the national education system.

He said political parties, in power before and those currently in power, were united in stating that the national education system has to be strengthened.

He explained that one of the issues constantly raised at all meetings was that each time there was a new education minister, there was a revamp in education policies.

Stakeholders had then questioned the consistency and sustainability of the education system, he said.

Khoo also revealed interesting “generational differences” that came up during meetings with the youths.

He said young Malaysians had expressed a great desire to study Chinese. “There was also a great desire by many young Chinese to study the Malay language,” he said.

“These are contradictions that need to be spoken about in a very serious way,” he said.

He added that the youths also wanted the existing education system to change to become more inclusive.

“One of the suggestions that I find the most interesting was about the teaching of languages in our schools,” he said, adding that youths wanted to learn more languages.

Meanwhile, committee member Mohamad Raimi Abd Rahim said the national language was a frequent topic during interviews.

He noted that, generally, it seemed Malaysians wanted to master languages other than their native tongue. “In this context, a second or third language, besides English.

“However, at the same time, the issue of the position of Bahasa Malaysia as the national language was also discussed,” he said.

Raimi added that all parties were concerned about the unity between races.

He said many had wanted the issue to be solved so that greater unity is achieved through the education system. “The question now is how we can achieve that,” he said.