Wednesday, May 25, 2011

JPA scholarships- Merit category should be based purely on academic results

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Nazri said SPM students who scored 9As and above must meet the Jabatan Perkidmatan Awam’s strict guidelines which include passing the interview and special test, and having a good set of curriculum activities, as there were just 1,500 overseas scholarships available.

He also said that of the 1,500 scholarships, 300 (20%) were allocated under the merit category, 900 (60%) under the racial composition category, 150 spots (10%) under the Sabah and Sarawak bumiputera category and 150 (10%) under the socially disadvantaged category.

It is revealed in today’s media that for merit category, an applicant is evaluated according to the following criteria:-
1. Academic result (85%)
2. Co curriculum activities (10 %)
3. Interview performance (5%)

For the racial composition category, the following criteria are used:-
1. Academic result (75%)
2. Co curriculum Activities (10%)
3. Family background (10%)
4. Interview performance (5 %)

The major differences between the two categories are therefore the different percentages given to the academic result and the family background being the additional factor for the racial composition category.

Public perception has always been that for the merit category, the award of overseas degree scholarships is based purely on academic result.

The announcement has come as a surprise to many.

In previous years, there have been complaints by top scorers that despite their impressive co curriculum record and interview performance, they have also not been selected.

Cabinet intervention by way of increasing the number of scholarship places has always been the necessary solution.

This year, the same complaints have surfaced.

Many top scorers have complained that they have not been selected for the overseas degree scholarships.

The basic question is –why can’t academic result be the sole cterion of selecting the applicants for the merit category?

Using academic result as the sole criterion will mean comparing the marks obtained by the students for the subjects used as assessment for scholarship selection.

Surely JPA can easily obtain the students’ detailed results from the Ministry of Education.

I also wish to reiterate my call that the JPA must be transparent in the award of scholarships.

JPA 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

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