Thursday, March 8, 2012

STPM - Second class?

So I've read the news that Form 6 students are going to be evaluated on a term basis, something like what they do in A levels.. A more holistic approach in education according to the ministry..

While I laud the ministry's approach to changing the Form 6 examination format, which after going through it myself is one of the toughest examination systems out there, there's still a lingering question in my mind.. Why then are STPM students subjected to "second-class" rank while applying for major courses in the local universities?
Now when I applied for my university back in 2009, they gave me 8 choices and another option to tick where "If I don't get the course I've applied for, the administration can give me a course deemed worthy for me"; something like that.. Now, say if you want to do pharmacy and they say "Hey, we're sorry but we ran out of places for the pharmacy program, how would like to do a different degree?" won't you get cheese off? Think about it, here you are wanting to do the course you wanted and the "good" people out there are giving you a course for the sake of giving you a course.. You may ask "How come I can't get a place?"

*drum rolls*

That's right people, students who do STPM are rated as "second-class" as far as application goes.. This is because we have another system in place, the local matriculation.. And no matter how many arguments I have heard over the years about how matrics is this and that, it still doesn't change the fact that it's not on par as most major Pre-U exams out there.. Now I may be wrong, for all I know they could have bettered the system now, for the sake of our future I really hope they do but my friends are telling me it's not the case.

1) They don't study as much as STPM students do. When I tried asking my matriculation friends about some problems in Maths T and Chemistry, they told me it is not in their syllabus.. So their exposure has effectively decreased.
2) Their exams according to my friends, are quite straight forward and easy to do.. If you just do your part, 4.00 is guaranteed in your hands.
3) There's even rumours that the exam questions has been leaked out to the students before the finals and with internal assessment, no one knows for sure the quality of the marking.. Mind you that STPM is still being monitored by the Cambridge International Examination Board, so no hanky-panky can occur.

The above are just a few of the many reasons why I still support STPM at any given day. And just ask how many STPM students didn't get the course they wanted, simply because the places are filled with matriculation students.. To make matters worst, the application dateline for STPM students is around March while for matriculation is around May, so if there're new course coming out around April (like it happened during my time), the poor STPM students lose out..

So why double standards? Why when one is internationally recognized by major institutions out there is subjected to second class back home? Changing the format might help in improving the grades and of course change the mentality of "exam-oriented" but the root of the problem will still be there.. STPM candidates will always find themselves at a loss once the UPU results are announced.. They should do what they do in India & US, one common exam to enter the university; it's either you make it or you don't; instead of 3 (yes, there's a STAM if I'm not mistaken) ways to enter the university.

A little fact before I leave you all: There were 62,000 candidates for STPM in 2008 but only 41,000 places offer at the local universities.. If you are adding government matriculation, STAM, Diploma holders and so forth, where will they be enough seats? 

And another one: If STPM is all that tough, and it's probably one of the reasons why it's getting changed to the term-based assessment, why must we wait for all the matriculation students to fill up all the available university places before opening it's doors to STPM students? Heck my friends with 5As can't even get a Pharmacy course.. =.=" 

You be the judge, I'm just one of those people that got tossed around like a salad in 2009.. ;) 

Disclaimer: The above arguments represent my own opinions and are based on the facts I've gathered from people around me. It could have been changed or modified, if so, please let me know. TQ. =)