COMMENT | It is high time that Putrajaya follows in the footsteps of the Sarawak state government by recognising the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC).
The Malaysian federal government has nothing to lose by recognising the credentials of the independent Chinese high schools. It is essential to recognise the UEC as all Malaysians should be eligible to receive tertiary education in public universities or be employed in the civil service.
UEC has higher standards than the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia. Many renowned universities around the world recognise the UEC but not necessarily the SPM. UEC has long been recognised as the equivalent to the United Kingdom’s A-levels by more than 400 top international universities. It is also recognised by the Sarawak government as a basic qualification for state civil service recruitment.
There are 60 Chinese independent high schools throughout the country. In Malaysia, students must obtain a credit for the SPM Bahasa Malaysia subject in order to qualify for entry into public universities.
At present, UEC holders who want to enter public universities have to sit for six SPM examination subjects. The six subjects are BM, English, History, Mathematics, Moral Education or Islamic Studies, and Science.
I suggest the federal government allow UEC holders to sit for only the BM paper instead of all six papers to qualify for entry into public universities.
There has been a lot of discussion between United Chinese School Committee’s Association (Dong Zong) and the Ministry of Education. Dong Zong has already expressed its willingness to accept the condition stated by the ministry, that UEC holders attain a SPM credit for the BM paper.
Therefore, it depends on the political will of Pakatan Harapan government. Education Minister Maszlee Malik would have to table the proposal to the cabinet after confirmation with Dong Zong. Then, the Education Ministry would have to instruct the public universities to acknowledge the UEC as an alternative entry requirement.
By accepting the UEC, Sarawak has set up a framework for inclusivity and diversity. It sets an excellent example for Putrajaya. By acknowledging the UEC, Putrajaya would pave the way for Malaysia to have an inclusive education policy.
The issue of the UEC’s recognition has featured in practically every general election since 1986. The litany of excuses given by the then BN government for not recognising the credentials grew more bizarre over time.
It claimed that the UEC’s curriculum was not up to mark or that the UEC was not based on the national curriculum and educational philosophy. The UEC was even perceived as a threat to national sovereignty!
Since the Harapan government upholds the values of diversity and inclusiveness, it is time for the new government to recognise the UEC. I also reiterate suggestions made by the education minister to have more integration activities for students.
Putrajaya’s recognition of the UEC would allow graduates of Malaysian independent Chinese secondary schools to gain entry into public tertiary institutions as well as the civil service and armed forces, which is one of the government's aims.
Allowing UEC holders to be admitted into public service will help to promote greater integration among Malaysians. The acceptance by public institutions would also alleviate the financial difficulties of UEC holders who cannot afford tertiary education in the private colleges or abroad.
ABDUL AZIZ ISA is special assistant to Stampin MP Chong Chieng Jen.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.