Sin Chew Daily
Education is a bridge that will lift the people's knowledge and quality of life, and the bedrock of the country's development.
To become a developed country, Malaysia needs to prioritize education and grooming of young people of great talents.
Unfortunately the Public Services Department (JPA) policy on scholarship has been unpredictable year in and year out.
JPA has previously announced that it would turn the "Bursary" into "Penajaan 9A+", specifying that only students taking at least nine subjects and scoring all A+ in these subjects in SPM are eligible to apply. If a student sits for 13 papers but gets only A or A- in one of them, he will then not be eligible to apply.
Such a stringent requirement has since triggered tremendous backlash from the society. JPA director-general Tan Sri Mohammad Zabidi Zainal subsequently clarified that students scoring at least nine A+ in 2016 SPM would be eligible to apply for P9A+.
Indeed, there are nine major subjects in SPM and if a student scores A+ for all these subjects, his or her performance should be commendable. In addition to these nine subjects, many students also take their native languages such as Chinese, Tamil or Iban, or subjects like geography and history so as to enhance their own knowledge and competitiveness. By right the government should offer them additional incentives for their effort.
In its stead, the government has made it compulsory for students to score A+ in all the supplementary subjects as well before they can apply for JPA scholarships. This will be like a punishment for diligent students against the education ministry's principle of grooming all-rounded and more competitive students.
The previous requirement of at least 9A+ for bursary application has been the cabinet's decision. The cabinet must therefore pursue whether the JPA has overridden its power by amending the criteria without the cabinet's blessing.
The reversal of JPA's decision has come as a great relief to many parents. However, the government must come to the realization from this matter that while it is understandable to implement austerity measures at a time the economy is slow, cutting back education allocations and bursaries will have a negative bearing on the students' chances of furthering their studies.
The government must do its best to help the students seek further education. The objective of our education investment is to produce the required talented young people for the country's future development.
As we are gearing up to become a fully developed nation, we need competitive and capable young people; we must never sacrifice the quality of education just because we have to cut expenses.
Offering scholarships to deserving students is the best way to train and retain our well educated young people. A government with long-term national education objectives and plans will never compromise on education, no matter how tough the challenges are. Our farsighted policymakers must allow our youngsters to be empowered through education in order to contribute positively towards the country and society in future.