Matriculation: Zaid slams govt for prioritising quota over meritocracy

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Former minister Zaid Ibrahim criticised the government for prioritising the controversial quota system over meritocracy in the country’s education system.

He was commenting on Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s announcement last Sunday that students from all races who score 10As and above in SPM examinations will be given the opportunity to join matriculation programmes.

Anwar also stressed that the decision would not compromise bumiputera privileges as per Article 153 of the Federal Constitution.

“The way the Madani government handles the matriculation issue does not give the people much confidence that it is capable of resolving long-standing issues.

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“The leaders’ statements on matriculation show that they are not willing to give meritocracy its rightful place in our education system,” Zaid said on X.

Elaborating, Zaid said the quota system and Article 153 would not change the country’s economic profile, as it would only push more young and old unskilled individuals to the gig economy.

“This workplace is where no new skills can be taught; hence, it’s difficult for wages to increase to cope with the cost of living.

“We won’t have enough workforce with a skillset grounded in science and technology to have an Industrial Master Plan. Quotas and (Article) 153 will not help (address) this deficiency,” Zaid lamented.

He also accused leaders of being preoccupied with discriminatory policies, where the non-bumiputera are told they would get places (in matriculation) if they get high marks, and are fluent in Bahasa Melayu, while no similar conditions are imposed on the bumiputera.

Although Zaid did not mention names, this is believed to be in reference to Umno Youth chief Dr Akmal Saleh who suggested increasing the bumiputera quota in line with additional allocations for non-bumiputera students under the new policy.

In addition, Akmal also insisted that those admitted to the matriculation programme must be fluent in the national language.

Meanwhile, Muda welcomed the government’s move to ensure equal access to matriculation placement for high-scoring non-bumiputera students.

The youth-based party said the government, however, needs to address several questions to ensure the policy is implemented smoothly.

“How does the government plan to implement the policy of guaranteeing matriculation placements for all SPM students with 10As or more, without compromising the existing bumiputera quota?

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“Is the government considering basing the non-bumiputera quota on the total capacity of the matriculation programme, rather than the current 10 percent of the actual admissions?” asked Muda information chief Leben Siddarth in a statement today.

He further urged the Education and Higher Education Ministries to provide more details on the new policy to ensure its implementation is consistent with the announcement.

Nevertheless, Leben dubbed the move as a significant step towards ensuring greater fairness and access to higher education.

He said the reform would help dismantle systemic inequalities in the country’s education landscape.

“While this decision is a positive step forward, Muda emphasises that a more comprehensive and long-term approach is needed to address deep-rooted inequalities in the education system.

“The government should develop a sustainable and equitable education system that provides equal opportunities for all students, regardless of their background or socioeconomic status.” – Malaysiakini