Task force: UEC failed by national education system, public wants to move on

Eddin Khoo speaks during a press conference at the Education Ministry in Putrajaya October 4, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Eddin Khoo speaks during a press conference at the Education Ministry in Putrajaya October 4, 2019. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

PUTRAJAYA, Oct 4 — The problems surrounding the controversial Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) were caused by the failure of the national education system, said the Ministry of Education’s fact-finding task force on the issue.

The UEC Policy Task Force (PPDUEC) said the consensus among various stakeholders that it interviewed was that the federal government did not manage to address the problems even after four decades since the UEC was introduced.

“The pattern [of answers received] was that it is the failure of educational system,” its chairman Eddin Khoo told a press conference here.

“I don’t mean it’s hypocrisy, if there was a same point given by everyone — no matter whether from the former ruling pact or the current ruling pact, then and now — is that the national education system must be improved and revamped.”

Khoo, founder of culture advocacy group Pusaka, was selected to lead a three-man committee along with Muslim Youth Movement of Malaysia (Abim) president Mohamad Raimi Ab Rahim and the Malaysia-China Chamber of Commerce president Datuk Tan Yew Sing, to advise on the ministry’s policy regarding the issue.

Since January, they have interviewed around 500 individuals from fields such as the academia, media, experts, civil societies, as well as those in the former government, on the issue.

UEC is a standardised test for Chinese independent high school students, which are not regulated by the Ministry of Education, that was introduced in 1975.

In Malaysia, the issue has been politicised by certain quarters that claim UEC is an obstacle to achieving national unity, especially in education.

UEC is accepted in certain private colleges in Malaysia and countries such as Singapore, Australia and the United Kingdom.

Currently, five states — Penang, Melaka, Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor — have announced that they recognise UEC though the students also need to take the Malaysia Education Certificate (SPM) examinations as well.

Khoo said although there are sensitive issues surrounding UEC, some stakeholders especially from the younger generation, told PPDUEC that the public needs to reconcile and move on from the controversy it has caused.

“There is a great desire from the young Malays to learn Chinese language. There is also a great desire from young Chinese to converse deeply in Malay language,” he said.

Meanwhile, Raimi said the stakeholders want recommendations made by PPDUEC to instil a sense of unity especially among Malaysian students.

“They want unity. They want the government to handle the issue to bring a better sense of unity in education,” he said.

PPDUEC will have one more session with MPs on October 16 before presenting its findings at the end of this month.

Khoo said he will ensure that the findings will be made public, and used as a reference for other related issue that the country is facing.

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