Education Politics Translation

In the 80s, matriculation was done by local universities… But Najib changed it.

(Artikel asal ditulis dalam BM. Klik sini kalau nak baca!)


Two weeks back, a certain Malaysian known as ‘No Hope Malaysia’ started a petition requesting Education Minister, Maszlee Malik to step down from his position.

Screengrab from

Screengrab from

Ok la, this may not be the first time Malaysians started and supported petitions like this against Maszlee. But this time around, this petition was started because Maszlee had compared the Bumiputera quota system for matriculation programme to job requirements. He made that comparison in response to some people’s suggestions to abolish the quota system for matriculation programme intake. In fact, GERAKAN president, Dominic Lau had urged the govt to abolish the programme completely.

“If we want to change this (matriculation quota), saying we are in the new Malaysia and that we do not need the quota system, then we must also ensure that job opportunities for Bumiputeras are not denied.” – an excerpt from FMT.

Based on his statement, you can probably tell why some people were angry at him la. But amidst all the argument on the matriculation quota system that was going on, our friends at SOSCILI were more interested in understanding the real history behind the matriculation programme. So, lets begin with how…


Matriculation became a programme for the Bumiputeras thanks to… Najib!?

Before we start, we’d like to clarify that this article is only talking about the matriculation programme under the Education Ministry. Not the ones in your private or local universities, okies?

And this matriculation programme began a loooong time ago, sometime in the 1980s. Back then, the programme was originally handled by local universities and there seems to be no evidence that it was a programme to help the Malays to get access to universities.

But that changed in 1998, when the fire nation attacked Najib Razak (yea, y’all know who this is) led the Education Ministry at that time. The Education Ministry had taken the matriculation programme under it and turned it into a national preparatory programme for students before entering degree. According to the Education Ministry’s website, this was the moment that turned the matriculation programme into one to help the Malays and Bumiputera be qualified to further their degrees in the science, technology and literature fields in universities, apparently in line with the Federal Constitution regarding Bumiputera rights.

So, that probably explains why Dr Mahathir recently commented that the matriculation programme is a backdoor for the Malays to pursue a university degree.

But there’s probably a reason why Najib did that la. Back then, this was seen as a necessary step to help the Malays because their standard of living and socio-economy weren’t stable enough to support their children to pursue degree in universities. The matriculation programme would thus be helpful for them because students may only need to pay their registration fees (which currently ranges from RM530 to RM580) and the govt pretty much bears the cost of the programme and accommodation.

However, that doesn’t mean that any Bumiputera students can simply apply this programme. The programme actually only opened up opportunities for Bumiputera students who excelled in their studies. In fact, the first batch that entered the matriculation programme after it had been standardised were students from boarding schools (Sekolah Berasrama Penuh) and Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM). The Education Ministry claimed that the students were picked based on their SPM trial results.

But these days a bit different la. Academician Teo Kok Seong mentioned that the entry requirement may have somewhat been lowered. Most students who entered matriculation had seemingly only scored 4 to 6 A’s in SPM.

Despite that, this programme is recognised locally and internationally. In fact, Harvard University recognises the Malaysian matriculation programme, on top of other well known institutions.

Click image from MOE to see the full list.

Click image from MOE to see the full list of universities.

Chup, what about other students who aren’t Bumiputera who may not have the money to enroll themselves into any local or overseas universities but are qualified to apply for matriculation?? Well…


Harapan added extra 3,200 places for Indian and Chinese students… but got catch

Ever since the standardisation of the programme, the matriculation programme has gone thru several changes such as the duration of the courses. Students initially needed a year and a half to complete any of the courses offered under matriculation, but now they may only need a year or up to two years to complete matriculation, depending on which courses they’re taking.

Besides that, the ministry also added the science technical courses to the matriculation programme and set a quota system for the non-Bumiputera to enter matriculation colleges. In this system, the programme allocates 10% of its intake for non-Bumiputera while the remaining 90% is allocated for Bumiputera students. This happened sometime in 2003 and it was in line with the country’s aim to be more inclusive where every Malaysians are given the opportunity to improve their standard of living and socio-economic status.

Why are so many Malaysian parents slapping/suing/scolding school teachers nowadays?

Yea, yea we get it. It probably doesn’t sound inclusive enough but that’s because the ministry also apparently wants to maintain the original aim to encourage Bumiputera students to pursue their studies in the science field.

You can actually count how many non-Bumiputera students from this picture. Img from

You can actually count how many non-Bumiputera students from this picture. Img from

As a matter of fact, Najib had announced that the Education Ministry would be opening 700 matriculation seats for Indian students a month before GE14.

“Before that we had a quota system. If its quota, we can guarantee Indian students intake of around 7.7 per cent, but the impact of a policy of meritocracy, the biggest losers are the Indians.” – Najib Razak to Malay Mail.

But you can probably guess what happened to that plan after Pakatan Harapan won GE14 la. The recent govt, on the other hand, had actually opened up 2,200 and 1,000 places for Indian and Chinese students respectively last year. It was reportedly done because there were some available slots from the Bumiputera quota which were not filled.

However, that was only a one-off thing.

What the govt actually intends to do is to continue using the 90:10 quota system but this time around it would be based on meritocracy. In this new implementation, the govt plans to allocate 60% of the places to Bumiputera who are categorised under B40. The ministry claimed that this new implementation would be more balanced and in line with the govt’s plan to empower the lower-income group.

And just recently, the cabinet ministers have agreed to increase the number of students per intake from 25,000 to 40,000. This was done so that more non-Bumiputera students will have the chance to enter matriculation without disrupting the quota for Bumiputera.

But even with the recent changes made to matriculation…


Most people are still not satisfied with the current quota system

MCA publicity spokesperson, Datuk Seri Ti Lian Ker actually pointed out that this move may cause an overflow of matriculation graduates in local universities,

“Is it not clear to Dr Maszlee that when he increased the matriculation intake to 40,000, that would mean there’ll be 40,000 students who would be entering local universities and their intake aren’t gonna increase up to 60% in a short time. The 40,000 matriculation graduates would also take up 96.22% of local universities’ placements, leaving 1,573 placements for STPM leavers (3.67%).” – Ti wrote to Utusan, translated from BM.

But form six students have to wear school uniform. :/ Img from

But form six students have to wear school uniform. :/ Img from

In addition, most people are still not satisfied with the govt’s decision because they claimed that the govt didn’t really address the issue which was the quota system itself. That’s probably why they launched the petition mentioned in the intro.

Youth and Sports minister, Syed Saddiq, had reprimanded politicians on their behaviour towards this issue:

“The matter was finalised based on a consensus made by the Cabinet and this was a collective decision. As such, if DAPSY (DAP Socialist Youth) is not in agreement they should ask their ministers who are in the Cabinet.” – excerpt from Bernama.

He also added that matters like this should be discussed in the cabinet itself because Pakatan Harapan is no longer the opposition and is currently the govt. In fact, according to Economic Affairs Minister Azmin Ali, there are plenty other education programmes besides matriculation to help those under B40 to get access to higher education.

“Let us not only focus on matriculation. There are many schemes and programmes to ensure the B40, those in the lower income bracket, get access to quality education.” – Azmin Ali to Malaysiakini.

So, regardless of what happen, lets just hope that the govt’s decision on matriculation may be able to benefit bright students, especially those who are under B40.

Oh, and as for Maszlee… he has been urged by the Penang MCA and DAP’s Youth to retract his remarks on the comparison between matriculation quota system and job opportunities. But even so, Dr M reportedly said that he still gets to keep his job even with the ongoing petition against him.

An earlier version of this story said that Mazslee retracted his statement, but in reality it was Penang MCA and DAP’s Youth who told him to retract. The story has been updated to correct the mistake.

Okbai. Img from The Borneo Post

Img from The Borneo Post

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