Thursday 23 June 2011

DAP backs PM’s new scholarship system

KUALA LUMPUR, June 23 — DAP lauded Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s announcement today to limit federal scholarships to university entrants instead of SPM top-scorers but urged the administration to lay out details of its plan immediately to avoid any misunderstanding.

DAP national publicity secretary Tony Pua (picture) told a press conference in Parliament today that the government should not dither on the matter and move quickly so that potential scholarship recipients would not be confused and would know “what is in store for them”.

“We support Najib’s announcement today but we hope that the PSD will carry out his directive as soon as possible,” he said.

Pua suggested a two-tiered scholarship distribution system, saying the Public Service Department (PSD) should still award grants to SPM top-scorers but for pre-university courses and subsequently, if they fared well in their studies, the students could then apply for undergraduate scholarships in top universities abroad.
“Award automatic pre-university scholarships to all top SPM students with 8A+ and above to pursue pre-university courses of their choice, such as the A-levels, STPM or International Baccalaureae (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,” he said.

Pua pointed out that when the DAP had mooted a similar suggestion in 2009, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Mohamed Nazri Aziz had said the idea merited further thought as it would reduce the number of applicants for overseas placements.

“So the question then is, will the 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?” he asked.

He added that if the department had not been able to implement such reforms over the past few years, next year may not be any different.

“So instead of waiting 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 recipients know what is in store for them,” he said.

In an interview with Chinese-language One FM radio station today, Najib said PSD scholarships would only be given to university entrants instead of SPM top scorers from 2012 to avoid the distress they have caused in past years.

The prime minister however added that those who perform well in their SPM will still receive small bursaries to pursue their foundation studies.

“Scholarships will be reserved if you are able to get very good results (at foundation) and (a) place at top universities. Giving out scholarships at SPM level is not a good idea... Just because you do well at O-levels doesn’t mean you’ll do well at A-levels,” he said.

Under the present system, PSD distributes 1,500 overseas scholarships to selected top SPM students with straight 9A+ and above and who pass an interview process. The remaining top students with 8A+ and above can apply for 2,500 scholarships offered for local university placements.

Pua explained that the system does not guarantee that only students who qualify for posts in top universities are given grants.

“Since they are given scholarships using only their SPM grades, even if they do not perform well at pre-U level and are only able to secure posts in lower grade universities, they are still granted the scholarships for undergraduate courses. Changing the system would help save the government some money,” he said.

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