KAMPAR: The Government is committed to the meritocracy system in admitting students into public universities as it forms a benchmark for students and promotes healthy competition among them, said Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the system was a good yardstick in gauging the students' achievements, which could not be done previously under the quota system abolished two years ago.
“Under the quota system, there were groups who felt that they would certainly be given places no matter what their achievements were.
“If we go by the quota system, the intake of bumiputra students will be much lower, which is 55%, the percentage which had been reached through the understanding and agreement made by leaders of the various communities,” he told reporters after launching the Kampar branch campus of the Tunku Abdul Rahman College.
Abdullah, who was asked about the report that the intake of bumiputra students into public universities this year had dropped by 6.7 percentage points compared with last year, said the Government was committed to the system as it would make students study harder to achieve better results.
He said the drop in the intake of bumiputra students this year should serve as a lesson.
To a question, he said that without the meritocracy system, bumiputra students would become complacent.
“But with the meritocracy system, we have a benchmark or a sense of direction.
“Education is an equal playing field where students are taught by the same teachers and share the same laboratory facilities and libraries in schools.
“The meritocracy system provides an avenue for healthy competition in education,” he added.
Asked to what extent the Government would maintain the meritocracy system, Abdullah said he could not foresee a situation where the public would reject the system.
On Friday, Education Ministry Higher Education Department director Prof Dr Hassan Said noted that 62.2% of the candidates who gained admission into the 17 public institutions of higher learning for the June intake were bumiputras as against last year's 68.9%.
Under the previous quota system, bumiputras were accorded 55% of higher education places while the Chinese received 35% and Indians 10%.
For the June intake this year, the number of bumiputra students were 23,182 (or 62.2%), Chinese 11,921 (32.2%) and Indians 1,931 (5.2%).
The three racial groups made up the bulk of STPM and matriculation students who gained admission into public universities, with 37,034 places offered this year compared with 32,752 last year.
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