FOUR students from Selangor and Johor who scored straight As in the SPM recently brought their complaint of not getting government scholarship to Parliament. They represent only a small part of the many disappointed students who bring up similar complaints every year.
At a press conference in Parliament lobby, Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusof said: “Our brightest students often do not get the opportunity to go for higher education to bring out the best in them. Eventually we would only encourage mediocrity and our nation would lose competitiveness in the process.”
I agree with him, perhaps some will end up in Singapore, where their bond is for seven years after which the bond-holder may be offered the option to take up citizenship, and perhaps one day be a part of a legal team representing Singapore in a territorial dispute with Malaysia at the ICJ.
Deputy Education Minister Dr Wee Ka Siong was quoted as saying “such cases occur every year because the PSD has only 2,000 scholarships while there are more than 15,000 applicants”.
Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak was quoted as saying: “Top students should be prepared to be disappointed” because the government cannot offer scholarships to all of them.
Reason? “The government will try its best to help them, but we must realise that the number of those who scored well in the SPM and STPM examinations was much higher than the allocation provided.”
The Defence Ministry has spent RM2.37 billion on 339,186 National Service trainees, this comes to RM6.9 million for each trainee. Just scrap the NS and give the money to the PSD. Then there will be enough funds to give scholarships to all the 15,000 applicants and even offer scholarship to senior citizens who feel like studying as well.
I assure you that the move will make many Malaysians happy, except of course for defence contractors.
There is no reason to expose our youth to military-type training. We should teach them wholesome values and critical thinking.
Education Minister Hishammuddin Hussein seems to be keeping a low profile on this issue.
I challenge the government to make public the list of the 2,000 recipients on the very criteria it sets – academic excellence (70%), interview (10%), socio-economic background (10%) and co-curriculum (10%).
For socio-economic background, priority is given to those with a family income of RM1,500 and below per month where the higher the family income, the lower the points. Meanwhile, for co-curriculum, those who hold positions in their clubs and organisations or represented their school in district or state competitions score higher points.
The government either makes the selection process transparent or the people will think that all the talk about meritocracy is bunkum. Make the list public and open it to scrutiny. It’s not enough to just give an explanation as the people think the selection process is biased.
Vijay Kumar Murugavell