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Kong See Hoh
The Sun Daily
Singapore has been making concerted efforts to woo Malaysian Chinese independent school leavers in recent years.
Among others, the island republic waives entrance examinations and doles out scholarships, permanent residency or even citizenship to absorb the crème la de crème of the Malaysian Chinese education.
Malaysia, on the other hand, makes no effort to keep these talents after having nurtured them for 12 years, resulting in a brain drain.
A survey of Chinese independent school leavers between 2006 and 2008 showed that although Taiwan remained the number one choice for these students to further their education, an increasing percentage of them are heading down south.
Of the 4,000 to 5,000 students sitting the UEC (Unified Examination Certificate) examination every year, the number of those furthering their education in Singapore has increase from 5.59% in 2006 to 8.40% in 2007 and 9.96% in 2008.
Apart from the attractive offers from the Singaporean government, the proximity of the republic, the similarities of its culture, languages, lifestyle and racial make-up with those of Malaysia’s are pull factors that make Singapore a top overseas destination for tertiary education, second only to Taiwan, for these students.
Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees Association) deputy president Chow Siew Hong told Oriental Daily News in an interview today that apart from being exempted from their entrance examinations and offered scholarships, Malaysians who graduate with flying colours can gain PR status or even citizenship within a short time in Singapore.
Chow said these offers are much better than those given by Taiwan and China.
He said it is not that Dong Zong is encouraging these students to look beyond our shores, “but our students are receiving the kind of positive treatment in Singapore they cannot find back home”.
Chow said National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technology University rank among world-class higher learning institutions, and Chinese independent school students, like any other student, yearn to be admitted to such institutions.
He disclosed apart from getting the list of top UEC holders from Dong Zong, Singaporean universities are also approaching individual schools to recruit top students.
“Now the entry qualifications (specified by Singaporean universities) are ‘UEC or its equivalent’, compared with ‘STPM or its equivalent’ in the past,” he said.
UEC, the examination set by Dong Jiao Zong for students completing six years of schooling in Chinese independent schools, is also accepted by many universities overseas. Malaysia does not recognise it.
According to Dong Zong statistics, 47.18% of the UEC holders who left for studies overseas in 2008 went to Taiwan, followed by Singapore with 26.50% and Europe, 11.15%.