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"Bear in mind that STPM is internationally recognised while matriculation programmes are not generally recognised outside Malaysia."

I submit that every astute student and parent with teenage children in Malaysia knows that Matriculation is behind STPM in terms quality. In this article, the astute, articulate and honourable Prof Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad spews deceiving statements.

According to the Education Ministry’s Matriculation Division director Prof Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad, results for the matriculation students will only be out in April but based on last year’s performance, he expects a high number of top scorers.

He stresses that contrary to common perception, matriculation programmes are equal to STPM in standard and quality.

“The exam papers are written by the same people that write STPM papers. The marking system is also rigorous with a three-tier process that includes external markers, usually the same ones as STPM,” he says.

The main difference is the structure of the programme, he explains:

“Matriculation is modular, which means that students do a few modules per semester, at the end of which students are tested. In the next semester, they do new modules.

For STPM, students study for about a year and a half and sit for a big examination at the end of it. STPM may be harder to do, but that does not mean that it is better.”

An academic from the UPM medical faculty shares that he finds STPM holders cope better in their studies.

UKM’s medical faculty dean, Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Saim, however, says that according to a study done by his faculty, there is no difference between the achievements of matriculation and STPM holders in UKM’s medicine programme. “What many students don’t realise is that having a CGPA 4.0 does not make a good doctor,” he adds.

The ministry's matriculation programmes do not only feed into public universities, but also private colleges and overseas programmes.

It is being increasingly accepted by foreign universities, notes Dr Zainal Abidin, and the division is also working towards agreements with more foreign universities. More importantly, he adds, matriculation programmes have become the choice programme for many SPM holders. “Last year, we received 25,000 applications for 20,000 places, including for the 10% non-bumiputra places. We had 1,800 straight-A students of all races entering the programme last year,” he says.

The honourable Datuk gets his statements eloquently rebutted and sometimes turned against him by the brilliant Penangnite, Jason Tan writing to The Star. Here are the main reasons why Datuk's statements that Matriculation programmmes are equal to STPM in standard and quality is just wrong quoted from Jason (the words in brackets are mine).

  1. "Matriculation students do their Pre-U course in a year or less, while Form 6 students have to undergo 1.5 years of study." (My experience and many of my friends' experiences is shorter courses are usually not as good as long courses. Why does KYUEM produce world class undergraduates? Because they offer 2 year A-Level courses not 9 month South Australian Matriculation courses. The longer you study the more you learn!)
  2. "Another point is that matriculation programmes are modular, and examinations conducted in semesters, which means matriculation students will only have to focus on several topics in that particular semester. STPM students on the other hand have one major exam." (People could prove Jason's point by sitting for all their Degree exams in one exam period. You will see that only the best of the best survives.)
  3. "Why doesn’t the Government standardise the exam and make it compulsory for matriculation and Form 6 students to sit for the same exam?" (I wonder what will happen if we give Matriculation students a shock suprise by forcing them to sit for the STPM.)
  4. "Bear in mind that STPM is internationally recognised while matriculation programmes are not generally recognised outside Malaysia." (I submit that STPM is accepted for entry into the University of New South Wales, King's College (University of London), the KDU Oxford Brookes Law Twinning Programme, even my course, theUnivesity of London external LLB doesn't accept Matriculation, etc. Tell me which course is better!)
I pray that yiwei, jasmine and everybody born after 1989 don't have to suffer through STPM and be discriminated when applying for a place in university while seeing Matriculation students being favoured. As for you Melanie and everybody taking STPM I pray that God gives you the strength to face unfair discrimination.

P.S: " It (Matriculation) is being increasingly accepted by foreign universities," notes our honourable Datuk. Does he mean universities in Uganda (A backwater African country.), Burma (Any university here is a farce as long as the military junta in power.), Bangladesh (Legendary for producing bogus graduates, especially doctors.), Pakistan (A tribal cowboy country.) and Iraq (Universities here have credibility, but I wonder who studies there. Saddam Hussein even studied in Cairo.)?

Thanks tony p for inspiration.

~multum in parvo~

(Images courtesy of Paper Napkin)

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