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Marked Effect of Meritocracy On 2010 IPTA Intake

This article was written by Mohd Khuzairi Ismail and published at Utusan Malaysia on July 20, 2010.

There was a fuss sometime ago when the number of female students going to institutions of higher learning for the 2009/2010 year exceeded the male students.

From the 40,366 candidates offered to do their first degree at public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) since last June , 65 per cent or 26,200 people were female students.

However, it is nothing unusual because since the past few years, the trend of female students dominating the IPT is normal. It happened in countries where women have equal access to education system.

But, there are other matters than the total number of new students to IPTA which should be our concern. According to racial composition, 27,829 of them are bumiputera, 10,116 are Chinese and the remaining 2,421 comprise the Indians and others,

In principle, the number of bumiputera students is still high, but what is not seen is the actual breakdown of the students that are able to go to IPTA based on meritocracy.

Since 2003, the intake of students to IPTA is no longer based on the quota of 55 per cent for bumiputera and 45 per cent to the non-bumiputera. The meritocracy introduced by the government gives equal opportunity for students of all races.

When it was first introduced, the meritocracy system, among others, refer to a form of lesson for the bumiputera not to waste the opportunity to study given to them by the government. Under the system, the students are chosen based on 90 per cent academic performance and 10 per cent on their co-curriculum.

During the early stage of implementation, the number of bumiputera able to pursue studies at IPTA was 68.9 per cent. It shocked many parties, especially those who opposed the system for fear that the system would favour the non-bumiputera.

However, after about eight years of implementation, there is a vast difference in the number of bumiputera students.

This year, for the 2009/2010 session which begins last June, the number of bumiputera students eligible is said to be only 26 per cent. Although this is not revealed by the government agency concerned, there are grounds that it is true.

This means that the fear by many parties of the non-bumiputera dominating the IPTA has become a reality. This fear is based on, among others, the economic factor which enable them to do well academically., like their ability to go for extra classes or private tuition compared with bumiputera students, most of who rely on basic education taught in normal schools.

This injustice is felt by students in rural areas where their access to extra classes is limited. It is not impossible, there will not be any more bumiputera student eligible to enroll in IPTA if this merit system is practised. Hence, the need for the government to review this policy.

Not that this is not realized by the government, when it has to increase the number of students intake to Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) to balance the number of bumiputera and non-bumiputera students in IPTA. This is because UiTM is the only university which does not fully adopt the merit system. There will come a time when UiTM too can no longer accommodate them. Where else can the bumiputera students go to then?

The question of assuring education for the bumiputera has been enshrined in the constitution as that of the responsibility of the government. There is no need to feel guilty in ensuring more access for bumiputera to education , including at higher level, because it is their rights.

What more, when they could not afford to go to private institutions of higher learning to pursue studies, like other races would, if they could not get to IPTA because of the high cost involved.

The non-bumiputera should realise that the quota system implemented previously did not deprive them of an opportunity to pursue studies at IPTA. With the 45 per cent quota reserved to them, they have ample opportunities to enroll at IPTA.

Apart from that, they are several universities which cater for them like Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR), Wawasan Open University , New Era College and many more.

In other words, the non-bumiputera has no problems pursuing studies in the country even when the quota system was in use.

In fact, if the factor is taken into account, we will realise that the bumiputera is faced with a limited opportunity for further studies. If this situation is allowed to continue, not only will the economic power slipped through their fingers, there will also be a dearth of bumiputera intellectuals to administer the country in future.

The above article was written by Mohd Khuzairi Ismail and published at Utusan Malaysia on July 20, 2010.

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