KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 17 ― The government should officially recognise the Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) if it insists on funding independent Chinese schools, argued Umno secretary-general Tan Sri Annuar Musa.
Denying he was rejecting either the UEC or Chinese schools, he told Malay Mail in a recent interview it was about consistency in the country’s education policies.
Annuar also repeated his previous support for the UEC and said Malaysia should have no issue accepting it when it was recognised broadly in Asia, Europe and the Americas.
“But what is not right with the present government is, before you solve the (UEC) problem, you do things that make people feel unhappy,” he added.
He further asserted that his side’s contention with the UEC was only with the contents of the Bahasa Malaysia and History subjects, which he said were inconsistent with the national education policy’s spirit.
Chinese independent secondary schools are private institutions reliant on donations and financial support from the ethnic Chinese community, but some of their students also sit for examinations from the national school syllabus.
In Budget 2019, Putrajaya directly allocated RM12 million to upgrade Chinese independent schools as part of a RM652 million fund for the same in 10 other school types.
This and a later RM6 million allocation to three non-profit private colleges that cater to Chinese students drew criticism from Opposition parties that questioned the rationale and urgency in funding these.
Annuar, a former minister, insisted the government must use such funds for purposes consistent with national policy as they come from the administration’s consolidated fund.
“You should not encourage giving funds for something that is not in line with your own national policy, in spirit,” Annuar said and claimed it could also send the wrong message to national schools.
Such moves also fuelled the Malay community’s suspicion that DAP was the puppetmaster in the administration, Annuar asserted when noting that there were many national schools in more dire need of allocations.
Claiming that Chinese independent schools appeared to get mock cheques for RM200,000 on an almost fortnightly basis, the former rural development minister said this would only anger parents whose children go to dilapidated national schools.
“Those schools in the rural areas of Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan, they hardly get any money for maintenance.”
Annuar then reiterated that it was not an issue of allocating funds to Chinese independent schools, but they must be officially incorporated into the national education policy first.
The UEC is the school-leaving certificate issued by independent Chinese-medium schools in Malaysia that was introduced more than 40 years ago.
The certificate has received limited recognition as an entry qualification in Sarawak, Selangor and Penang but remains unrecognised nationally as a requirement for tertiary education and public service applications.
Pakatan Harapan pledged to recognise the UEC in its election manifesto and made early strides towards this, but deferring it to some time in its current term after meeting with public resistance.