2004 happens to be an unusual year. First there was this sudden increase in pre-university students with magnifico results, the unprecedented number of students with perfect scores in matrikulasi as well as STPM. Then there was this humungous interest or demand for medical seats. The gomen was obviously caught with its pants down at its ankle. Unprepared for the deluge of high scorers and equally unprepared for the interest of these high scorers in medicine. As a result 128 had to be initially turned away. The period between announcement of the pre-uni results and the start of application for uni admission was obviously too short for any remedial measures to be taken, if there was no prior proper planning.
So when the bruhaha created by those 128 who failed to gain admission and their parents and the ever caring politicians, the PM
and his merry men in the cabinet had to come out with the brilliant ad hoc solution
of taking in all the initially rejected 128. But like all ad hoc solutions, more problems are thrown up by them. Firstly, there are really no concrete plans as to how these 128 will be placed and whether their medical seats will be provided by IPTAs or IPTSs? Secondly, what about those who had great results but were denied the course of study of their choice? Will the gomen deal with them in a similar manner? It is only fair that the gomen do so. All these others should be similarly absorbed and be made happy. Why only for those rejected for medicine? Surely those who applied for dentistry, pharmacy, chemical engineering etc etc should receive similar treatment from a caring gomen.
The MINIsters, BN politicos and joe-public came out in praise of the brilliant ad hoc solution offered by the cabinet. The PM wants
all to accept the placement of the 128. The DPM
was sure that the solution was not the result of pressure. And to draw attention away from those [other than medicine rejects] denied uni admission due to seat limitation, the mainstream media and the gomen kept joe-public's attention centred on those who initially failed to get into medicine. Now the Higher Education MINIster mulls proposing that those applying for critical courses of study in tertiary instituitions should be screened
. Again another sudden thought of a solution to the issues of having insufficient places in tertiary centers for qualified applicants. Or will this screen turn out to be just another obstacle for those seeking admissions to critical courses. Many feel that this screen may not be fairly applied and the applicants receive fair and equitable evaluation.
In order to encourage only those who possess the necessary qualities, aptitude and dedication to put their course of study to good use after graduation, students upon reaching upper secondary level should have career guidance counselling provided by knowledgeable career counsellors who have received sufficient training to do their job. Presently many career guidance counsellors in many schools are chosen on an ad hoc basis and many fail or are unable to do a proper job. Upper secondary students should be exposed to what happens at the ground level and what is the reality when they eventually graduate and work. Screening them when they are about to enter the uni is a bit late. Being a developing nation and presently still facing shortages in many sectors, are we really ready for such aptitude and attitude and psychometric university entry screens ? The gomen, especially now that we have a HIgher Education MINIstry, should also have better plans and strive to provide places for all those who are qualified and interested. It is no point crying that there is a shortage in this field and the next and not really taking steps to reduce these shortages. Better attempts and encouragement and even some 'brain washing' should be given at the upper secondary level to students to take up courses which will be beneficial to the nation.