Sarawak minister puzzled by Unimas statement on Chinese school certificate

Datuk Fatimah Abdullah, the Sarawak minister holding a watching brief on education for the state cabinet, said she is puzzled and does not understand why the state’s public university Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) issued a position statement that it would not recognise the independent Chinese school's Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) as an entry qualification. The state welfare, women and family development minister said what she understood from Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem's announcement that the state would recognise the UEC, was that holders could now use the certificate to apply for jobs in the state civil service and for entry into the two private universities which the state has a stake in – Curtin University in Miri and Swinburne University of Technology, Sarawak campus in Kuching. She said nothing was said about using the certificate, which was not recognised by the ministry of education, to get into Unimas. Unimas vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Kadim Suaidi on Friday issued a statement that the university could not accept UEC holders at the moment as it was “bound by regulations of the higher education ministry”. Kadim had said Unimas, being a public university, is obliged to follow directives from the ministry regarding the national education policy towards UEC and also the current admission requirements to public universities. Fatimah, however, acknowledged the state's recognition of the UEC had highlighted the differences in opinion between Petrajaya and Putrajaya over the standardised examination taken by students in the 12 Chinese independent secondary schools in the state. She said the education ministry is pressing for compliance of the national education particularly on Bahasa Malaysia, history and geography subjects while Sarawak hopes to be pragmatic by stemming a brain drain, particularly among those students who excel in science and mathematics. “Its compliance versus being pragmatic.” Fatimah said the situation should not be that way and believed a win-win situation to retain the best young minds in the state could be found. She said Sarawak United Association of Private Chinese School Management Board president Temenggong Vincent Lau is giving some hope and optimism that the board could finally budge from their decades long entrenched position and agree on some compromise on their syllabus. Fatimah said if there is some sort of conformity, or near conformity, on some of their syllabus,then it could lead to the recognition these independent Chinese schools sought. “I'm hopeful. We want what is best for our people.” The Sarawak chief minister a week ago called Putrajaya’s policy of not recognising the UEC stupid and senseless. He said it made no sense not to recognise the UEC because it had led to a brain drain and exodus of talent to countries like Singapore, Taiwan, Hong Kong and even China which recognised the qualification. – November 9, 2015.