Back then, SPM students with excellent results were allowed to bypass the STPM system to pursue tertiary studies straightaway after they obtain their SPM results. Later on, the Ministry of (Higher) Education issued a statement saying that SPM students are not eligible to apply for public universities and must sit for the STPM examination for the Pre-University level. And now, according to this article from The Star, the ministry once again permits students who have sat for the SPM examination this year to apply for places in public universities for the 2008/2009 session.
Little did they know that people who can do well in examinations may not have high IQ and that people with high IQ may not be able to do well in examinations.
To me, this seems to imply one thing, that the standard of the SPM examinations I sat for in 2005 was supposedly lower than that for this year. Therefore, because we are not well armed with the knowledge required before going to universities, we have to either sit for the A Levels examination (if you plan on going to private universities), the Matriculation, Foundation studies, AusMAT, Canadian Pre-U, or the infamous Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia.
However, looks like that wouldn't be necessary anymore for SPM students now. Starting November this year, students who have sat for the SPM examinations can now apply for university entry. Although they did not state specifically whether these students would be first taken into the university to do any foundation studies or just absorbed immediately as undergraduates, as far as I am concerned, there are no universities that are offering foundation studies yet. If there are, I wonder why didn't the ministry tell us so, instead of us having to do STPM examinations. Logical, isn't it? Correct me if I am wrong.
Most of us have already gone through the SPM process, and upon doing our Pre-University studies, we would have found how much lacking our knowledge is so much so that we know the reason why we were not allowed to directly apply into universities as undergraduates. The issue now is: Since we know that the SPM syllabus is simply insufficient for students to directly apply for undergraduate studies in public universities, based on what grounds does the ministry now permit SPM students this year to apply for public universities purely based on their SPM results?
Are they going to, once again, say that selection of students from the SPM level into universities will be based on the results they obtain, and that only the creme de la creme would be chosen. It certainly shortens time a lot for students, having to skip the two years in STPM, but this is like a repetition of the PTS case. Back in those days when PTS examinations were still around, we saw some of our friends skipping Standard 4 into Standard 5 because they supposedly have higher IQ compared to us, and therefore could cope even without having to go through Standard 4.
That's true to some extent. Little did they know that people who can do well in examinations may not have high IQ and that people with high IQ may not be able to do well in examinations. Perhaps they had not heard of savants back then. Hey, no offense to those who have succeeded in the PTS examination, but my point is just that a great number of those who skipped Standard 4 have also flopped in their examinations later on. Many who were regarded as potential genius in Standard 3 could not secure a straight A1 streak in their SPM examinations. Nevertheless, I must also add that getting straight A1's in the SPM examinations does not even necessarily reflect our intelligence nowadays.
So, now we have a similar situation where students who could score excellent results in the SPM examination would stand a chance to further their studies immediately in public universities. It saves money for parents to bring their children to pursue their tertiary education as public universities are far cheaper, and it saves time because they would not need to undergo STPM studies.
However, is that a good move? Many students who have gone through Matriculation and STPM studies eventually flop while pursuing tertiary education, too. Is it not too big a risk for SPM students to pursue undergraduate studies immediately? If they want to pursue any course in biology (medicine, genetics, biochemistry), what would they know about taxonomy (from kingdom to species), detailed anatomy and so on? If they want to pursue any course in physics (engineering, automotive), what would they know about statics, mechanics, kinematics, etc.? If they want to pursue any course in information technology (computer science, business), what do they know about programming, network analysis, problem solving, etc.? If they want to deal with language, what do they know about didactics, semantics, etc.? Virtually nothing.
Being Malaysians in a competitive era, we seem to favour short-cuts. We want to be over with studying. We want to venture into the working world as soon as possible. We want to start earning our first big bucks. STPM examinations seem to be for losers only. It is that kind of mentality that sometimes poison and eventually kill our minds, giving us the unnecessary distress that we could have avoided simply by being more patient.
Have I regretted doing my Foundation studies in UTP? Certainly not. I was offered the ASEAN Pre-U Scholarship too but I rejected it, knowing somehow that I would get the better offer from Petronas. But if Petronas had not offered me the sponsorship and I had rejected the ASEAN Scholarship offer from Singapore; and also assuming that I had applied for other scholarships but failed to secure one, would I go for STPM? Yes, and without any resentment. I wouldn't even consider doing A Level studies on my own. That's flat.