Limit MRSM quota for elite students

22 Mar 2023 11:57am

SHAH ALAM - The quality of Bumiputera elite students and the intake quota of their underprivileged counterparts cannot be compromised if the proposal to establish paid Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) for elites and high earners in society.

Former education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said the idea to establish paid MRSM is good but the government needs to make sure that only students who have the academic and co-curricular qualifications are eligible for admission.

He said this condition is important to ensure the quality of MRSM students is in line with its original establishment goal, which is to produce professionals in the science and technology field in this country.

"We can't compromise in terms of quality because MRSM has a big goal. If unqualified students enter (because they can pay), then it will be a problem for the teachers," he told Sinar Harian on Tuesday.

His comments followed the newly-appointed Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) chairman Datuk Dr Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki's statement to refine the proposal to establish paid MRSM for the wealthy.

Asyraf Wajdi was reported as saying that this was a request from parents who want to send their children to study at the institution.

He said they are willing to bear the high cost of MRSM admission despite having the financial means to send their children to study at elite international private schools.

The proposal for paid MRSM was made in 2016 by former premier Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who was the Rural and Regional Development minister then, but it received various reactions.

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The proposal has yet to be refined and it also hasn't been decided whether to build new MRSM facilities or use the existing ones, Asyraf Wajdi said.

Commenting further, Alimuddin believed that the income generated from paid MRSM could be beneficial and add value to both the elite and less privileged students.

Meanwhile, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Education and Human Well-Being Research Centre lecturer Dr Anuar Ahmad suggested that at least 60 per cent of the total number of students should be from the underprivileged group and the remaining can be elite students.

He said the paid MRSM idea, needs to have two channels of admission: one for the wealthy students and one for the poor students.

"This is also the time to further increase the number of MRSM in the country. There are 55 MRSM right now, and the capacity of accepted students is around 7,169, compared to some 90,000 who applied this year.

"So in the future, Top20 (T20) parents can apply through paid channels, while 60 per cent of MRSM placement will be given to poor students," he said.

He added that the same model can be used for boarding schools (SBP) to save the government's expenses.

"In the context of civilised society, any family that wants and can afford quality education should pay a fair price for it.

"Meanwhile, the government can help those who can't afford it," he said.

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