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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

SPM scores not enough

IN LINE with the 1Malaysia concept, a National Scholarship scheme based purely on merit has been set up. It was announced that beginning this year some 30 crème de la crème SPM achievers will be awarded scholarships to further their education in world-renowned, top-notch, Ivy League universities overseas.

This new incentive scheme by the Government and the Education Ministry is most laudable. Top SPM students all over the country can now look forward to fair competition among their peers to secure that highly-esteemed overseas scholarship. If selected, they have also the chance to study in a world-renowned university.

Certainly, there will be no lack of qualified contenders. Nowadays many of our students can excel both in curricular as well as cocurricular achievements.

Even the SPM grading system has accordingly been revamped to facilitate the selection of these best of the best potential scholars.

However, while this is exciting, I think there is a technical hitch. To my humble knowledge and understanding, no world-renowned top university offers admissions to students based solely on their performances in SPM-level examinations.

These universities require more and higher qualifications: the A-levels, STPM (Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia), Matriculation, SAT 1 & SAT 2 (Scholastic Achievement Test for universities in the US), or other pre-university study courses.

In fact, it is the students’ performances in these higher level examinations that really count in the selection process. In addition, some of these higher-ranking universities (like Oxford and Cambridge in Britain and Harvard in the US) conduct tests and interview sessions with potential candidates before deciding on their admission.

So it can safely be concluded that SPM scores alone do not determine the university a student can enter later on.

Consider also the following fact. Any experienced secondary school teacher and administrator will tell you that while an STPM/A-level/Matriculation/SAT scorer normally scores in the SPM, not all SPM scorers score in STPM/A-level/Matriculation/SAT.”

This inadvertently points to the inconsistency that may arise if National Scholarships are awarded to SPM scorers who later on do not secure a place in a top-notch, world-renowned, Ivy League university because of lesser performance in their pre-university studies.

Perhaps, National Scholarships should be awarded only to those who have already secured a place in a top university. Or JPA (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam) scholars who excel in their A-level/Matriculation/SAT courses and subsequently gain entry into top-notch universities can have their scholarships converted to National Scholarships.

Let’s make it truly a prime mover for our academically strong as well as all-rounder students to achieve greater success and excellence.


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