Tuesday, May 24, 2011
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri said that the government had allocated 1,500 overseas scholarships to top students but stressed that of the total; only 300 were given based entirely on merit to students scoring straight 9A+.
The remaining 1,200 overseas grants, he said, were distributed according to those qualified within four categories — Sabah Bumiputeras (five per cent), Sarawak Bumiputeras (five per cent), social composition or the population’s racial composition (60 per cent) and socially handicapped (10 per cent).
He explained that currently over 360 students fell within the merit category which offers only 300 awards, resulting in over 60 failing to obtain the overseas scholarships.
“This means they may or may not qualify for remaining 1,200 grants. It depends on how they fare in the interviews.
The first question that DAP wants JPA (Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awam) to answer is how were the 300 recipients selected from 360 who qualified when the only criterion used was academic result?
All 360 students have scored straight A+, so how did JPA decide?
How much weightage is given to interview, even to the extent that who have scored all A+ could lose out when competing for the remaining 1200 places?
Second question is why can’t the Cabinet increase an additional 60 scholarships so that those straight A+ students will not have to compete for the remaining 1200 places?
Public complaints of unfairness against JPA have become an annual phenomenon.
It is unsatisfactory for the government to merely cite keen competition for limited places or performance in interviews as reasons why qualified students are unsuccessful in obtaining JPA scholarships.
A few days ago , Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong revealed that government officers who failed to follow Cabinet directives is one of the main reasons why top students failed to get the JPA scholarship awards.
He said that many students who deserved the scholarships did not get the grants, but those who did not deserve them had successfully obtained the financial assistance.
He even described the situation – where qualified students were unsuccessful in their scholarship applications – was the worst this year in all the years when he handled appeals.
It was also reported in the media that a student, Chai Sheng Min from SMK St Joseph in Kuching, had obtained 10A+ in the SPM examination but only got a scholarship to study engineering at Universiti Teknologi Petronas. He said his friends who got 4A+ and 5A+ were awarded scholarships to do Pure Science in the United States.
It is time that the JPA must be transparent in the award of scholarships.
It should, firstly, publish how scores are awarded for all the factors, viz academic result, co curriculum activates, interview performance and economic background.
Secondly, it should publish the names of all successful scholarship recipients, with details like results and scores obtained by them, type and place of academic programmes approved by JPA to them.