Monday, December 21, 2009

Time to reprioritise the role of MRSM and other boarding schools

The plan was to write on some political development but an Utusan Malaysia report today caught this blogger's attention.

Utusan reported an appeal by a BN Backbencher on Government's decision to cut allocation to Institut Kemahiran Mara (IKM) up to 200% and Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) up to 60%.

IKM's budget will be slashed from RM403 million a year to RM143 million a year. Whilst MRSM's budget be slashed from RM200 million a year to RM143 million a year. Read here for the full report.

This report will have it's own political ramification. The discussion on the reduced allocation for MARA will evolve around the nation's economic and financial situation to further extending into issues of Bumiputera speacial rights under Article 153.

Nevertheless, facing up to the reality of budget constraints, this blogger argue that the Bumiputera economic future is better served by lesser budget cut to IKM and more cut in allocation to MRSM.

Government have overextended their MRSM program and need to relook the MRSM program which in this blogger's opinion have astrayed from it's original purpose.

MRSM can operate on a lower budget and be more socially effective if the Middle class Malay stop their dependent mentality to demand for more boarding schools, specifically MRSM, and take charge of their children's basic education.

Before touching further on the subject, which could spark screams from this blogger's circle of boarding school Alumni and Middle class Malays, the Article 153 will be briefly touched.

The late Supreme Court Lord President, Tun Suffian's had interpreted in his book on the Malaysian Constitution that previlages under Article 153 is actually a permanent cost for trade-off between the Immigrants' citizenship and willingness (or in actual fact, force by colonials) to accord the citizenship by the Malay Rulers.

Though the previlages is termed as Malay Special Rights, it is actually basic and minimal in value. Compared to rights for licences and permit to do businesses, and job in the civil service, it is scholarships and training that has significant economic value.

Although there are constitutional avenues to stem the Government effort to cut MARA's budget, budget constraints is a reality and there is no other choices but to prioritise. Thus, it is timely to express openly to the public this blogger's view that have been vehemently opposed by his fellow boarding school Alumni in the past.

Face it! Reality has sink in and the need has come to do some drastic changes.

Part of the problem lies with the Government, institution or individual, lackadaisical attitude in their financial management of MARA and it is time to take stock of the situation and review back it's priorities. They have to face up to the reality that money can never flow like water. Even producing clean tap water to reach the rural areas cost money.

There have been many attempts in past years, if not a decade and half ago, to consolidate MARA's financial position and make them financially self reliant. The idea was to make MARA sustain it's educational and entrepreneur development program beyond the NEP period.

Unfortunately, the attempt was never taken up seriously by the many pen pushing Little Napoleans. Such basic as auditing function in MARA was lacking. Let alone to establish a Fund with regular income stream from its investment.

Despite the limitation in finance, MARA continued to expand it's MRSM program along the grandiose idea from the late 80s for an MRSM at every Parliament area. One wonders the benefit of having a closed entry school system in a particular locality. Majority of students are from other localities.

There is no real economic benefit to the local economy other than petty economic activities in supplies and jobs. Secondly, do we need to keep building more MRSM to cater to the rising population and rising number of Bumiputera?

When MRSM was conceived in early 1970s, it was to increase the number of Bumiputera students in the Science stream. The rural schools were lacking in facilities to teach the Science stream subjects (streaming was later extended to commercial subjects). The science stream allocation in urban Government school were limited and were taken up predominantly by non Bumiputera, notably Chinese.

Bumiputera were lacking in exposure in the Sciences. They needed to be given a chance. This explains why the program was placed with MARA which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Rural Development.

The Government intention at the time was to build more boarding schools to rigorously groom potential Bumiputera students to produce good results and catch up in numbers. MRSM was built as a Boarding school and not the day school like the Bronx High School it was modelled after.

But since then, demography, lifestyle and educational needs have changed significantly. There is more urban Government schools today and sufficient facilities in Government schools to teach Sciences. Qualified Bumiputera students should be able to get a place.

The Bumiputera middle class demography, particularly among the Malays, have increase in numbers. Correspondingly, it is quite noticable that urban middle class Malay children are benefitting from the present boarding school program. One can find parents driving Mercs and BMWs on registration day or on a typical weekend.

The reason primarily is the perfect As minimal requirement which by probability, favours children from the urban and well heeled family. The minimal academic requirement severely disadvantaged the potential rural and urban poor students, particularly the East Cost and East Malaysian students. They usually do poorly in the English language subject and this denied them that entry opportunity.

Although more urban Middle class children are getting in, another trend is emerging. Boarding school life is no more suitable to these urban qualified children. Most boarding school had to face two wave of attrition and three sets of registration dates before student population settle in.

It is not unusual that further attrition resulted in the number of students per batch is less than budgeted for. In total, many rural and urban poor were deprived of that opportunity due this flip flop habit of urban kids.

Usually these students entered boarding school at the insistent of their boarding school alumni parents. But boarding schools do not provide urban students an added advantage in terms of facilities and accessibility to facilities than those at their schools and homes.

This impress on the point that boarding school entry requirement should be made on economic needs for a second chance for the economically disadvantaged than as reward for the capable haves or a status symbol for future snobs.

These yearning by Middle class Bumiputera family, particularly Malays to send their children to baording schools have to be addressed.

It has reached a point that if they failed to send their children to those branded boarding schools, they are willing to send their children to quasi boarding schols which is more religous school than a normal school stream.

For that matter, the current boarding schools have expended so fast in numbers that it is not producing the quality character for future success.

This can be attributed to the problem of quality teachers able to build character are not meeting the demand, over emphasis on producing straight As while neglecting other aspects of education, and the infiltration of politically PAS-aligned wardens turning the schools into sekolah agama rakyat-like environment.

Products of boarding school are regimented and spoon fed lots that either turn into lifeless book worm or plunged into disciplinary problesm at varsity level.

In a conversation with Encik Wahab Alwi few years back, the man oftenly dubbed as "Father of MRSM" for pioneering the MRSM school concept, he highlighted that the education budget in this country is lopsided. The bulk of the educational budget is spent on the smaller segment of the population.

Off course, it can't be expected to go on a laisse fairre free market economic model. That would further deprived the needy of education and see further injustice from misallocation of resources. An example is the merit based scholarship launched by Government are financing students from economically capable family.

Educational budget have to be reprioritised and that include the objective of MRSM and boarding school education. It has to be kept within a realistic budget.

One is to focus on the rural and urban poor. The budget saved by MARA could be reallocated to training programs like IKM, and scholarship for Unversities which is have immediate impact in the numbers of Malay professionals. MARA cannot subsidize the education of the affordable Malays.

Secondly, should the Middle class still persistant and argue according to their children's right (which is a weak self serving argument since children are dependent of parents), they will have to bear the full cost and cross subsidize for poor children. Let them pay to their nose to have the school facility which should be meant for social engineering rather the already socially engineered.

More, if not equally important, and more so with an East Malaysian as Minister for Rural Development Ministry, there should be more boarding schools and MRSMs for Sabah and Sarawak than in Semananjung. The need for more social uplifting is more pressing there!

So what do we do with the capable urban and Middle class Bumiputera children? Stop whining. Go to a normal locality school, preferably the mixed race schools and compete. Show Melayu or Kadazan or Iban or Bajau or ... boleh!

It is high time Middle class Bumiputera take charge of their own life and take responsibility of the children's own education and not left it to the Government. If they can have nice homes with beautiful interior, more than one car and annual holidays abroad, they can surely spend for their own children's education.

There should not any more be children of Alumni be given priority entry. It is ridiculous that a beneficiary of Government assistance see it as a previlage that his or her off spring receive the same Government assistance. That applies to all MRSM, MCKK, TKC, STF, STAR, SMS, etc.

These people should instead be contributing back in serious monetary amount back to the school as a sense of gratitude that taking away the opportunity of other children.

Turn those elitist MCKK or TKC into a Sekolah Rakyat for all I care. After all, products of MCKK today are in PKR and PAS playing populist politics to appease the non-Bumiputera voters and betraying the plight and rights of the Bumiputera.


Anonymous said...

This is really unfair.

Najib can approve the RM 4 billon Project Permata Pintar but slash MRSM and IKM budget.

Majority of the RM 4 billion budget of Permata Pintar will be for the ridiculously high payment for so-called John Hopkin's expert consulting services. John Hopkins is not known to have a brilliant Education Faculty in the US but somehow Rosmah managed to convince his sleeping partner to allocate RM 4 billion directly out of JPM and totally outcast the MOE top management.

My sources told me the the miserable Permata Pintar costs taxpayers money RM 20 million. Such a ridiculous portal considering most of the jobs are awarded directly to Rosmah's inner circle without proper evaluation.

While MRSMs have consistently out perform MOE elite boarding schools for the last 20 years, it is ridiculous to slash the budget.

Anonymous said...

Betul tu dulu MRSM adalah untuk anak-anak MELAYU dan BUMIPUTERA yang bagus prestasi akademiknya tetapi daripada golongan MISKIN tetapi sekarang MRSM dah jadi tempat anak-anak GOLONGAN ELITE.!!

MRSM sekarang dah lari jauh daripada matlamat sebenarnya..

Anonymous said...

Sekarang di SBP dan MRSM boleh lihat semasa waktu ibubapa datang ambil anak-anak mereka dengan berkereta besar dan mewah!!!

Bukankah itu menunjukkan mereka itu berkemampuan??

Dimanakah fungsi MARA yang ditubuhkan untuk membantu golongan MELAYU yang kurang berkemampuan??

Tun Faisal Ismail bin Aziz said...

1stly, i agree tht parents shd take up their responsibilities to provide best education for their children and shd they think tht facilities of a boarding school is far inferior thn tht of their home, esp those in rural areas, why shd they send their children there.

but, parents do not send their children to boarding schools like SBP, MRSM, SMKA, SMAN, SMAR only becoz of academic performance per se, but also for its ethos, practices and guidances instilled in the school. for instance - wht is being taught in religious schools in terms of understanding the religion and practicing some specific ibadah are thgs can be hardly obtained outside of a boarding school environment.

2nd - those who study in such schools are made of 70% bumiputera of the rural areas; i dont know abt MRSM, but tht was the reality in the schools under MOE. 30% comes fr the urban and suburban and yes u might see some rich malays in the schools, including the children of alumni members (max is ten or less depending on schools), but still the majority are from the rural area.

3rd - every year the place isnt enough for majority of malays students who score straight A's in UPSR, even when u combine - 50 over SBP, 50 over SMKA, SMAN and SMAR. the place for SBP is only 6,000 and the number tht score straight As are 46,000.

4thly - now even they r many Malay middle income earners in the country compared to 1970 and earlier, but when come to per parity income and the rising cost of higher learning education, many malays cant still afford sending children for professional courses in IPTs, thus making the number of malays in professional courses in IPTA and IPTS are not matched wt their proportion in the population. ths will later has implication to the number of malays professional in the market.
If we were to reduce the GAP between races, we still have to put consistent effort to ensure the GAP is not widened.

A Voice said...

Tun Faisal

Tell those parents to remove such selfish and self serving attitude.

If those parents want the attribute of those schools, join the PTA, raise fund for the school, and work with the teachers to build the school into that you aspire for cheap!

On your second point, being rural is not good enough. The students have to be from poor family and area deprived of good education as an opportunity.

The 70% bumiputera claimed to be from rural area are still from the middle class economically.

Boarding school has to be about social engineering and not just about education and facility or a reward system.

On your third point, that is why we have to reprioritise. By turning boarding school as a reward for good students, it will never end.

Bring the standard down to 3As and 4As even and emphasise on the truly economically handicap. I have seen the womnders it could do coz my 1A or 2as frind later turn out to be successful human.

Your forth point is an apologetic point. Manage and live with it. To reduce the GAP, why must it befall only on the Middle class.

Why cant middle class Malay take responsibility for their children academic performance and not rely on Government pump priming?

Cuckup lah asyik bergantung pada kerajaan.

Anon 4:42

Permata has its justufication. Cut the prejudice on Rosmah.

Just coz MRSM outperform MOE elite boarding schools it should not be slashed?

Slash it! It is already abused. Unless slahed, it will not get its priority right.

Why are we so engross with secondary education subsidiy. What happen to the more important training and scholarships which is part of article 153???

I am even suggesting to close up half the MRSM and sell or do something else with it.

Let the remaining half be just for the economically poor and socially handicapped. Then the budget can be met.

The haves can send their kids to Tunku Jaafar college or any one of thsoe new private colleges.

Anonymous said...

A Voice,

I'm not being emotional about Rosmah. Being an educationist, what Rosmah is doing is not right. RM 4 billion is alot of money! Why wasted on something that is still uncertain.

MRSM system has proven to be better than MOE boarding school system. Besides, it has become a very important ground to produce elite Malay students.

Who actually abused the MRSM system? Quite easy to find out. Evey year, the so-called "senarai menteri" applications out-number normal applications. People with high connections with MARA and successful ANSARA members driving the luxury cars begging for their sons and daughters to be admitted to MRSM !

Secondary educations is still a very important aspect of our education system. Coming from an elite school gives some privileges in terms of getting scholarships for university educations and later on job applications.

So, please cut the bullshit trying to be idealistic. Before that, tell Rosmah improve MOE and MRSM system rather than Permata Pintar Project !

Unknown said...

Tun Faisal,

Politicians and top brass at MOE always bragging about high numbers of straight A students every year.

I believe you were a special officer at MOE once upon a time and there has never been any news about how many straight D & F students our education system produce every year.

The truth is, for every straight A student we produce, we also produce 3 straight D & F students.

Setiap tahun bila keputusan diumumkan cuma cerita baik sahaja digembur-gemburkan. Cerita tak baik boleh mendatangkan mudarat kepada peluang politik dan kenaikan pangkat !

Siapakah straight D & F students itu? Bukan pelajar dari kawasan "urban & suburban" tetapi pelajar di luar bandar yang miskin dan terpinggir !

Inilah pengundi-pengundi yang banyak menaruh harapan kepada pemimpin-pemimpin yang disayangi tetapi nasib mereka tidak dibela sepenuhnya oleh pemimpin masyarakat

Tun Faisal Ismail bin Aziz said...


not all fr the 70% are from middle class; many stil not from rich family, including those fr kampung and children of farmers, drivers, Orang Asli, Bumi Sabah and Sarawak. and to justify to gv places to those wt 4A and 3A is not easy for those in the ministry esp when many wt 5A are not given place in SBP. but i do agree that may be MOE shd relook into parents income in the selection process. and that is going to be another massive exercise esp when reliable system is not in place.

2nd - u cant turn an ordinary daily school into a good SMKA, SMAN and SMAR, especially when the school is fed by a multi ethnic and multi religious students frm nearby primary schools.

3rd - the big picture is stil a big picture, GAP is widening due to per parity income of the malays vs the non malays, democratization of education which lead to the opening of many IPTS and colleges and implementation of meritocracy which i assume is not a success..

berasiam said...


Bila disentuh tentang kelayakan masuk terutama dari sudut akademik, mungkin sudah sampai masanya bagi Kementerian Pelajaran merombak semula sistem penilaian mereka khususnya untuk peringkat tahun enam, tingkatan tiga dan lima. Lambakan yang dapat semua "A" itu perlu diperbetulkan dengan penggunaan sistem yang lebih adil penilaiannya. Tetapkan peratusan yang beroleh "A" pada satu angka tertentu menurut taburan normal dan sebagainya. Dengan cara demikian, tidak akan timbul lagi masalah lebihan mereka yang layak untuk ke mana-mana kerana peratusan yang boleh dikategorikan cemerlang dan sebagainya telah ditetapkan lebih awal. Dalam masa yang sama, kriteria kelayakan untuk ke SBP dan MRSM juga perlu disesuaikan. Barulah praktikal yang 3A dan 4A pun boleh diberikan peluang untuk ke SBP dan MRSM. Kalau ikut tradisi di Malaysia, hal sebegini kena dimulakan oleh sang Menteri, Tan Sri Muhyiddinlah nampaknya kena main peranan. Datuk Alimuddin cuma menurut perintah.

Anonymous said...

Najib will do anything to remain PM including compromising on the Malay rights.
It is sad to see Malay leaders putting their self interest above the interest of their own race.
They will certainly be punished in the next GE.

A Voice said...

Tun Faisal

Glad we have some meeting point.

When you said "not all fr the 70% are from middle class", you've proven my point.

I am socialistic and practical here.

To make boarding school operate within the budget and not keep asking for more, the middle and upper economic class have stop asking from gomen la.

On yr second point, there is no such thing as you can't do turn normal school into MRSM or what may.

If the middle and upper class is denied of MRSM and SBP, they will make every effort to work to get the school rise to the occassion.

The school is as good as it's PTA ...Parent Teacher Association.

Yang tak bernasib baik dan tak ada daya mengubah nasib itulah diberi peluang untuk masuk MRSM dan SBP.

Saya tahu bahawa masa zaman Nazri Aziz jadi Pengerusi MARA dan kemudain Menteri Usahawan, dia membolot beribu2 tempat untuk diberikan pada orang2 UMNO.

Itu awak tak payah cuba nafikan. Ini bukan nak burukkan UMNO tapi nak betulkan UMNO. Patutnya rakyat didahulukan bukan pemimpin membolot.

Income disparity issue is an economic issue better deal with by economic policy.

Not stretching the budget for self serving middle class Malay who have continually benefited from Government and abusing their influence and contacts.

Anon said

Coming from an elite school gives some privileges in terms of getting scholarships for university educations and later on job applications.

So, please cut the bullshit trying to be idealistic. Before that, tell Rosmah improve MOE and MRSM system rather than Permata Pintar Project !

I think this is not about being idealistic. Insufficient budget is real.

Eliticism is not real. Its a fake.

But I think your figure of RM4 billion for Permata is not quite right.

I know the Permata people. My cousin is involved. The promised budget is only RM200 million.

But do show me where you get that RM4 billion.

You said it is ridiculous to slash MRSM budget.

If I am the budget director, I know I can slash more.

I know where they are a lot of ridiculous spending. How much per head when compared to MOE schools.

I think if we imposed on the Merc and BMW owners to pay full cost, I am quite sure we can meet the expenses.

If they pull out their kids, better. Than we have a case to raise more from Government.

Why put such amount of money on secondary school? The Bumi parents have to take responsibility of their kids education.

Better on University and training institutions?

C L J said...

Thanks for everybody's contributions giving very interesting ride in collecting facts and ideas. Something suddenly strike my mind a first batch entering a 2nd school in the state of Terengganu that give secondary ed. about 50yrs ago.

Great opportunity openings are seen today but unfortunately stumbled by lines of blocks coursing demands for more. Yes we need more in short for time we have is growing less due to counter demands are giving lots of pressure now.

Secondly: The process closing the rich and poor gaps are also creating social problem along the left over balance due to open communication system encouraging urges higher temptations for more needs.

Yes the production of the middle class is growing very fast. But it is going to be useless when we allow the left overs to disturb the achievement record by contributing opposite picture.

Thus skill training shouldn't decline, infect should expand. Thus IKM budget is the focus of my opinion. The skill training focus should also go through revised study. Some training which could be done insitu should be done so thus reducing cost.

More focus should be more directed to high skills and modern product and productions like electronics, plastic, molds, precisions and such.

Innovative and creative aspects should be given a good direction for small scale besides scaled production process so that backyard industries can also flourish.

Yes higher education produces 2nd class but good self reliance skill with guidance and assistance latter will burst out of poverty shells.


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