Saturday, June 25, 2011

University scholarships only after Pre-University

We understand from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s statement on the radio on Thursday morning that JPA university scholarships will only be awarded at pre-university level after securing admission into top universities, instead of at the current SPM level as one of the means to resolve the perennial scholarship conundrum.

This move is fully in line with the proposal the DAP Socialist Youth led by the MP for Rasah, Anthony Loke has made via a memorandum to the Minister in-charge of scholarships way back in 2009.

The NutGraph had in 2 June 2009 reported that “a proposal to limit overseas Public Service Department (PSD) scholarships to students who have completed Form Six or pre-university equivalents has been well-received by at least one Barisan Nasional (BN) minister.

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Aziz had then said the idea merited further thought as it appeared to be a viable solution in reducing the number of applicants for overseas placements. “I strongly support this. It is a good idea and I will look into this.”

However, even way back in 2006, the then Higher Education Minister, Datuk Seri Mustapa Mohamed had already announced that the Government will only continue to award overseas scholarships to students who are able to gain entry into “ivy league” class universities.

The question then is, will the Public Service Department (PSD) comply and execute the Prime Minister’s directive that overseas scholarships only be awarded to students who are able to gain entry into these top universities after pre-university levels instead of SPM?

Since the PSD has been unable to implement such reforms over the past 4 to 5 years, why would next year be any different?

Instead of waiting for another year before the entire scholarship circus repeats itself again, the Government should immediately announce the details of the new scholarship policy so that the Malaysian public and particularly, the potential scholarship holders know what is in store for them.

We call upon the Government to award automatic pre-university scholarships to all top SPM students with 8A+ and above to pursue the pre-university course of their choice, such as such as ‘A’-levels, STPM or International Baccalaureate (IB) programmes.

Subsequently, the Government should announce a full list of top universities and colleges whose courses will be accepted for overseas universities scholarship consideration, whether it’s Economics in Cambridge or Engineering at MIT or medicine in Melbourne.

It is only with full and complete transparency will the Government be able to redeem the credibility and prestige of the PSD scholarship programme. Otherwise, it will just be another case of only rhetoric with little or no action, leading to the same fiasco next year.
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