Once, a Sijil Rendah Pelajaran (SRP) graduate can command a respectable career in the market and there were very few graduates of Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM). Currently, everybody is at least a Bachelor degree graduates with the majority already holding a Master degree. It is safe to say that a degree is the least that anyone should possess for a reasonable career today.
However, the cost of higher education post-SPM is exorbitant. The total cost per student for a combined A’level (or equivalent) and an undergraduate studies costs in the United Kingdom, Australia and United States of America universities is in excess of RM250,000 (based on scholarship offered-depending on currency fluctuation). The total cost post-SPM studies for degree in Malaysia is approximately RM70,000 (based on PTPTN). My brother in law Rhiza left yesterday for a short 3 weeks course at the Harvard University business school in America for a cost of RM50,000 in fee (no scholarship) but the truth is, the best university will cost the most.
The competitiveness for securing a well-remunerated future employment demands our children to graduate from respectable universities and the high cost of education created the unhealthy competition to acquire 20As for SPM. Unlike historically, when an SPM graduate can even become a Bank officer, the 20’A’ achievers today, cannot even secure employment as a civil servant (without higher education).
The race to get 20 ‘A’s was primarily to secure a scholarship. Capping the exam subjects to only 10 at the most, will not resolve the exorbitant expenses for higher education. The chances for a non-bumiputra to secure a scholarship with 10As were lower compared to the Malay. Henceforth the need for the ‘kiasu’ competitive parent to pressure their children for 20 ‘A’s, that eventually snowball to the current predicament.
The 10 subjects capping for SPM will be favourable if all students whom scored 10 ‘A’s are guaranteed full scholarship and local university placement. The qualification for studying abroad should be based on the best in overall exam result and co-curricular achievements akin of prominent university shortlisting of applications.
Students only require a minimum 4 General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE or SPM equivalent) subjects to pursue an A' level course in the United Kingdom. The minimum requirement to be accepted into an average top 15 United Kingdom universities are also a minimum of 4 subjects in GCSE (SPM equivalent) and 2 A' levels (See: BCU) . A better university will require a minimum of 5 GCSE subjects and only 2 A'levels (see: Kent). Students that possess more subjects and better score will have an added advantage when the University or colleges had to shortlist from the many applications.
The 10 maximum subject capping for SPM is redundant for eligibility into established universities in the United Kingdom and does not warrant a lengthy discussions especially when only 10% of the total students are involved. Our main issue is the SCHOLARSHIPS, GRANTS, LOAN or financial assistant for the high cost of tertiary education AND the extensive option of 111 elective (ref: Star) for SPM subjects.
Reduce the elective choices of subjects and provide a clearer guideline for scholarships or funds that qualify 10 'A's students with an excellent co-curricular achievement to be eligible for scholarship/funds and we will achieve similar result without the need for capping or regulation.
Nonetheless, the scarcity or lack of available teachers will not be resolved with 111 elective, even with the capping of 10 'A's.