In my eyes, the MRSM system is part of the social engineering process in transforming certain segment of our community, particularly Bumiputera. Close to 40 years later, the MRSM alumni are everywhere. Some of us are in positions to make significant difference to the country, some are contributing to nation building in their own ways.
MRSM was built as a Boarding school and not the day school like the Bronx High School it was modelled after. Initially MRSM was built to provide education for rural and urban poor because they were lacking in exposure to education. They needed to be given a chance. This explains why the program was placed with MARA which is under the auspices of the Ministry of Rural Development.
When MRSM was conceived in early 1970s, it was to increase the number of Bumiputera students to produce good results and catch up in number as the rural schools were lacking in facilities. To screen the “best and brightest” among Malay children to undergo privileged training in education. The vision was to create intellectual elites able to build the nation which was then in the process of modernizing. No doubt the system evolved, in line with the evolution of the society.
Recently, a daughter of a friend of mine just register to one of the MRSM. According to her, one can find parents driving Mercedes and BMW on registration day. Correspondingly, it is quite noticeable that urban middle class Malay children are benefiting from the present boarding school program.
Although more urban Middle class children are getting in, usually these students entered boarding school at the insistent of their boarding school alumni parents. In total, many rural and urban poor were deprived of that opportunity because of trend.
The reason primarily is the perfect As minimal requirement which by probability, favours children from the urban and well heeled family. The minimal academic requirement severely disadvantaged the potential rural and urban poor students. They usually do poorly in the English language subject and this denied them that entry opportunity.
MRSM is not a perfect system, as with other man-made system. However, it provided young Malaysians, mostly from the lower strata of the society to have the opportunity to be leaders of the future.How this system is shaped in the future will be determined by us collectively. We cannot stand passive and argue from the sideline if we feel the system need to be corrected. Some may have more opportunities than other to do this.