Scholarships for top scorers

By Dr.Chris Anthony

Stretching to help fairly all who deserve

The government’s decision to spend RM1.24bil to award scholarships to 1,500 top SPM students may be laudable but spending such a hefty sum on a relatively small number of students to undertake their first degree programmes abroad is unwise. High performers must be rewarded appropriately but the money spent must be prudent to benefit as many as possible.

Why can’t our top scorers be sent to do their pre-university courses and basic degrees in local institutions? By sending the best to local universities, which cost much less, not only more students can be sponsored but at the same time also help improve the standards in our own local universities which is on the decline in recent years. How can we elevate our universities to the status of world renowned institutions like Oxford, Cambridge, Harvard and many others, when we keep sending our best overseas? This would only boost the foreign universities at the expense of our own.

It must be borne in mind that high achieving students make up far less than 10% of students. The vast majority are average performers who should also be catered for adequately. There are also many who do badly or even fail their examinations and it is equally important to cater for the special needs of these category of students as well. Spending all we have on a few top students and neglecting the vast majority who obtain mediocre results will be detrimental to the nation. It will be this majority who are considered mediocre who will be form the bulk of the workforce in the future.

Selection of students for scholarships causes a lot of uproar every year. I admit there is no one ideal system that would satisfy all but whatever method is chosen must ensure that genuinely deserving students are not deprived of the opportunity to pursue their tertiary education. In this regards the selection process must be more transparent and open.

According to Deputy Prime Minister and Education MinisterTan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin the students for scholarships are selected under the excellent academic achievement category will be assessed according to academic performance (85%), co-curricular activities (10%) and Public Services Department interview (5%).This clearly indicates the over-emphasis on academic excellence over all others. Unfortunately important factors like financial affordability, extra-curricular excellence and the all important aptitude seem to carry little weight. Not all top scorers have the aptitude and not all with aptitude will be top scorers either.

Academic performance is of course a very important factor in selecting student for scholarship but it would be unfair to base the assessment on just a single public examination. It would be a better if it is based on continuous assessment throughout the year by the respective teachers who would know the students best.

In the past tremendous emphasis used to be placed on testimonials from teachers with regards to character, attitude, aptitude, behavior and academic performance of students. Students with excellent testimonials are given greater priority for scholarships and other awards. Students then strive very hard to excel in all areas, not just academic, so as to get a good testimonial on leaving school, knowing very well that only academic excellence with good testimonials from their teachers will take them far in their career and lives.

Unfortunately today testimonials are rarely sought as they have very limited value particularly for top scorers. All that matters is a string of A’s and nothing else. Students spend so much time and money to obtain those A’s often at the expense of all other equally useful activities that are essential to make one all rounder, being well equipped to handle the many problems they may encounter with maturity and wisdom.

It would a great injustice if a student from a humble background but with the right aptitude but with only above average results denied financial assistance thereby forcing him to abandon his career that he is passionate about. It would not only a setback for the individual but also a great disservice to the nation.

It is time for the government to seriously consider a fairer and more comprehensive method of awarding scholarships to our deserving students. These awards should be granted to all who are eligible based on overall merit without discrimination whatsoever in keeping with 1Malaysia policy. Unless we give every deserving Malaysian child the opportunity to pursue his ambitions and ideals, our nation will not be able to move forward in this highly competitive global world.

As responsible citizens the people too should dotheir part to ensure that as many Malaysians as possible will benefit from government aid to further their studies. With limited resources and a large number of deserving students, it would only be fair for those who can afford to be considerate to make way for the less fortunate who are genuinely in need of financial assistance without which they will have to forgo their dreams of a tertiary education for good.

  1. #1 by TheWrathOfGrapes on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 9:17 am

    Another shenanigan and attempt to hoodwink the non-Bumis.

    First, they announced that the top 50 scholarships will be on “merit”. For argument sake, let’s say the top 50 were awarded as follows:
    25 places to Chinese
    20 places to Malay
    5 places to Indians

    Wow – looks good – half of the top 50 went to Chinese, and Indians got 10% of the scholarships.

    Now, throw in another 1,450 scholarships to make it 1,500 in all. Most likely, these will be distributed as follows:
    40 places to Chinese
    1,400 places to Malay
    10 places to Indians

    I leave it to you to work out the overall percentages. These are similar scholarships, but by packaging (no, spinning) the Top 50 as being awarded on the basis of merits, they think Malaysians will buy the sophistry.

  2. #2 by kpt99 on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 9:46 am

    Hopefully, JPA will publish all the recipients’ names for better transparency.Unlike the recent Yayasan Tenaga Nasional Scholarships which revealed only successful candidates IC number,code of courses,palce,date and time for interview.Why is so secret and confidential by publishing their names ?.Deserving SPM high achievers hope that it will not another begging season once the result is announced.Equal opportunities should be given to all under the concept of 1 Malaysia.

  3. #3 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 10:01 am


    1500 scholarships for SPM students?

    What the most stupid boleh mentality. The best SPM students should be trained first in the local universities until they get a bachelor’s degree, not to send them overseas right now. Those money should be used for the local universities, training more students and professors. We have to prove that our boleh u can cultivate excellent students. Else what the top 100 or top 200 ranking are we talking about? Boleh should send only PhD students overseas, not the SPM students. Sending SPM students overseas is the biggest joke on earth.

    At this moment, it proved that the politicians have no confidence in boleh u, such that the good ones have to be sent overseas (or else they will be buried alive in boleh u).

  4. #4 by kpt99 on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 10:22 am

    Send them all to UNI kAMPUNG UITM in order to have 200000 students as soon as possible.The only uni in the world that enroll students base on races which is better than HAVARD.But sad to say it produced bunch unemployed graduates here and there that are crying for helps from government.KPLI and GSTT are the only suitable jobs for them.

  5. #5 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 10:37 am

    By the way, we have the Laila Taib College in Sibu. The name of the wife of the chief minister of Sarawak. The college was under Sarawak United People’s Party, but was sold for 1 ringgit.

    Welcome to study here

  6. #6 by k1980 on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 10:45 am

    RM1.24bil to award scholarships to 1,500 top SPM students.

    Is the Penang student who obtained 13A+ in the 2009 SPM included? If not, there are 1,499 students who obtained even better results than her 13A+. Then Vigra Chua must dissolve the mca and replace it with the MPA—malaysian pendatang association. All sinkehs are welcomed to join, free viagra given by Chua

  7. #7 by dawsheng on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 11:26 am

    If you have 13A+ you don’t need Najib’s scholarship. It is not the amount of money or how many students get the scholarships, I am sure some of the RM1.24bil will landed in somebody else’s pocket. Stop worrying about the top Chinese students but pity those bumiputera and puteri instead.

  8. #8 by kpt99 on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 11:41 am

    it’s rare but true.A pengarah of one IPGM in Sabah asked his staffs what is the meaning of MQA during the weekly assembly.Come on an official with grade 54 malukan dirinya di depan semua warga dibawah jugaannya.Gaji Buta

  9. #9 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 11:48 am

    the results of students are becoming better and better on the paper, but why the country cannot be improving? are these grades fake?

  10. #10 by frankyapp on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 12:01 pm

    Sending 1500 top SPM students to overseas university sounds pretty good I take that “overseas” means in the UK,US,AUSTRALIA,NEW ZEALAND,are likely majority would be sent there. Wonder all these students especially their English Language at SPM level can cope with the pretty high English standard requirement in the university of these country. I think it’s a good idea to let them brush up their English Language and obtain their first degree locally with a view to continue their next degree overseas. This’s not only lessen the pressures of the students but also helps save pretty lots of time and money.

  11. #11 by kpt99 on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 12:16 pm

    In the oldest days to score 70% in any language subjects were dump difficult.Nowadays, students scoring A+ which is 91% and above are common in English, and BM.Are the students of today better or there are doubts in the grading system.90 % and above are almost perfect.KPM is the only ministry that are pleased by that.

  12. #12 by dagen on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 12:26 pm

    Sending SPM students to university is stupid. By and large they are not equiped with the necessary knowledge to enter university. A-level is one hugh jump from O-level. A-level is a great deal more demanding and vigourous than O-level. If a comparison is needed, A-level is quite close to university first year. In singapore juniour colleges often make reference to uni first year textbooks. In other words, O-level (form 5) a good three years away from first yr uni. Of course some students are way better than others and they have the grey matter and the interest or determination to catch up and do well although three yrs handicapped. Such students are not normal students. In every school we could find only a couple of them. Here in jibby land of boleh people we send form five leavers straight to uni by the thousands as if they are all of that category of super bright students.

    How did this happen? NEP again. Malays to be given preference to enter local uni. The umno gobermen is concerned that malays could not compete with non-malays and A-level (STPM?) would show the disparity even more. Hence they fear that malays could be wiped out instantly from our local uni. To overcome this problem they created matriculation courses only for malays in local uni. Of course the standard is equivalent to A-level but matriculation students sit for internal exams. And that is a great difference. Internal exams are way easier than external/public exams.

    Mamak decided to open up the matriculation course to some non-malays. And hell broke loose. Every student with good O-level results thought that they are good enough to enter university. The fact of the matter is an 18yr old is not quite the same as a 20yr old. Generally speaking of course. There are exceptions. I know. And sending them overseas makes matters worse. Singapore wasnt exactly far or very different from malaysia. Even then it took me quite some time to get adjusted to the new environment away from home. So for 16As performer failing first yr uni exams in uk is not an oddity.

    There is yet another dimension to that NEP problem. Non-malays are driven by ridiculously intense competition to do extremely well so that they could qualify to enroll for the extremely few places that were allocated to them in local universitites. The entry requirement for non-malay students could be comparable to NUS and HKU (if not higher)! Luckily umno messed up local uni standards. They are no longer an attraction to non-malays like before. And luckily umno started to up its anti-malay efforts. More people are turning away to overseas. Otherwise the competition of “A”s would be crazy.

    How to solve the problem? Get rid of umno. Get rid of NEP. Malays are not stupid like what umno made them out to be. Next, we should just do away with matriculation. Every student must go through 13yrs of basic/general education (6yrs primary, 5yrs secondary (may be shorted to 4 for all students) and 2 yrs of pre-u (may be shortened to 1 for bright students)). Only after that they can enter university. Recognition and express process must always be given to gifted kids.

  13. #13 by dagen on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 12:30 pm


    “And luckily umno started to up its anti-nonmalay efforts.”

  14. #14 by wanderer on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 12:30 pm

    Hard luck…these flea brains from the Education Ministry think from their rear ends. Obviously, the only logical thing to assume, they will award the scholarships from bottom up!…brilliant students stand aside…mud heads come marching in!

  15. #15 by pulau_sibu on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 12:36 pm

    If we count the total number of PhDs in boleh, there must be more bumi than non-bumi. Non-bumi are only interested in getting a bachelor’s degree and think that is the whole world. Don’t ever think that we are better than bumi, until we realise the real fact one day. It will be too late.

    Wake up!

  16. #16 by johnnypok on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 12:36 pm

    Local uni tak ada standard, most of the lecturers are HP6, some of them are not even qualified to teach bright students, not to mention the quality and stanadard of the so-called VC, all of them are from one race (1-Malay), so how to produce quality students???
    If the passing marks are raised to the same level as Singapore, most of the top-scorers will find their names at the bottom instead, which explains the record number of unemployable and “stupid” graduates whose certificates are no better than toilet paper.

  17. #17 by frankyapp on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 1:09 pm

    Hi johnnypok,the problem is Umno/Bn leaders are obsess with great quantity in term of money they want to reap,they have mixed up with the ideal quality of education.Now this quantity is in their mindset.They have indoctrinated the malays that quantity is best.Look around you find most malays have large quantity of children but lacking qualtiy.Like you said they produced large quantity of graduates every year but most have no quality thus they are being umemployed.I repeat Umno/Bn leaders and cronies are so obsessed with quantity of money they wish to grasp,they have traded away quality with quantity.

  18. #18 by HJ Angus on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 1:45 pm

    Given the poor record of overseas scholarship holders who refuse to return after their studies, this RM1.5bil could be put to better use in Malaysia.
    Instead of 1500 students, I estimate 5000 students can be helped if they study at local Us or twin programs.
    As a student who went abroad after STPM in 1967, I feel many youth will find life overseas very challenging and many will fall prey to the many distractions especially if they are under 18 years of age.
    It is noticed that many Muslims also get influenced by religious extremists as there are many such people in the UK and the USA. Why not set up more boarding schools in Malaysia with this money so that students only travel abroad after their first degree?
    My idea is that perhaps only the top 500 graduates are granted an overseas Masters program and that after they have worked for at least 2 years after graduating.

  19. #19 by dagen on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 2:24 pm

    Off topic. Apology.

    About apco’s involvement in our police IT system development and installation. Imagine this. Eventually the police would install several thousand cameras all over the country, esp the more important / critical places (for various reasons). That means the israeli too could be viewing us albeit remotely. Not a very comfortable feeling to say the least to have someone from far away looking at us all the time. Whereas our police would be sleeping on their job (not impossible), the israelis are unlikely to fall asleep esp if they have an objective to work towards.

    And what is there to prevent them (since they are on the job) from working their way into other database and system held by the umno gobermen. The country will be controlled by them esp when they managed to secure some fatally critical info about say jib and like a jilted lover, threatened to expose them. Jib will be on his knees. Ketuanan melayu will see another ketuanan – the real tuans. Tanah melayu will become tanah melayu in name sake.

    Thanks to umno’s grand effort in messing up the country and shooing away non-malays, they the non-malays by now have some kind of contacts outside the country. Each and everyone of them. In other words, they can migrate and move away from the future colonial masters. Malays cannot. So dont let that happen. Malays must stand up against umno. Malays must vote umno out. And the decision must be more than a decisive one.

  20. #20 by kpt99 on Thursday, 8 April 2010 - 7:52 pm

    Where is the Malaysian Maths expert sent to UK ?.She applied her Maths to become TOP GRO and earn more than our professors.Where is the program CARI Sofaie ?

  21. #21 by johnnypok on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 7:19 am

    Dear kpt99, there are hundreds and thousands of Sofear in the bolehland, earning more than our so-called professors, sorry to say, many of them used money to buy their certificate. The record number of uunemployable graduates will soon enter Guiness World Record, and bolehland will become BODOHLAND.

  22. #22 by chengho on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 8:03 am

    we must look for creative and innovative not factory to produce robot

  23. #23 by kpt99 on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 9:22 am

    Yb Lim, ask JPA to publish all the recipients’ names this year for the interests of public. If the government is really serious with transparency, they should not make it so confidential.

  24. #24 by frankyapp on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 11:38 am

    Hi chengho # 22,I think for once you are now talking sense.

  25. #25 by nkkhoo on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 12:04 pm

    Are these 1500 top scorers really top brains?

    I doubt so, even my friend wonders his son is truly smart to score As in SPM.

    The hard fact is the standard of SPM nowadays is bloody low.

  26. #26 by DCLXVI on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 12:26 pm

    chengho :we must look for creative and innovative not factory to produce robot

    Yes, our education system must not produce ‘robots’ that simply believe and obey Umno-BN.

  27. #27 by johnnypok on Friday, 9 April 2010 - 12:43 pm

    Datuk title no more value because can use money to buy (even Tan Sri), and now many Phd titles have surfaced like pop-corn, some of them are nuts with monkey brains.
    Sooner or later, pet dogs will also get Phd titles and what not. What a shame to be a bolehlander.

  28. #28 by kpt99 on Saturday, 10 April 2010 - 12:18 pm

    During a civics lesson,a non-bumi student asks his Malay civics teacher.Why he has to score more As than his fellow bumi friends just Cs for admission in to matriculation ?. Are we all not the same, anak Malaysia and suppose to be treated equally like what you do in the class.Why is our government treating us differently ?.We studied fairness and equality in pendidikan Morals since primary school.The teacher was caught shocked.

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