It was highlighted last Wednesday that a 12 1As disabled student was denied even an interview for a scholarship by the Star.
As the country’s top special-needs student, he was exhilarated that he was one step closer to achieving his ambition of being a lawyer for people with disabilities. And he was looking forward to sharing his hopes and vision at the short-listing interview for the Public Services Department (PSD) scholarships. But he received a letter of rejection instead.One of the official reasons (excuses?) given by PSD, or at least their corporate communications chief, Hasniah Rashid, for Albert's scholarship rejection was...
“I am supposedly the top disabled-student in the country. If I don’t get a shot at the PSD scholarship, then what are the chances of other special students?” said Wong, 18, who suffers from Duchenne Muscular Dsytrophy, characterised by progressive muscle weakness, and thus requires assistance with physical activities.
... [f]or example, we can’t accept a blind student for medicine, as he will not be able to do some of the practical work. We also have to see if the necessary facilities are available in the local preparatory colleges where they will undergo the first stage of the programme (pre-university studies).To me, while its true that there are indeed limitations to what a disabled person can study, as quoted in the example above. However, by further arguing that Albert will be denied an opportunity to secure a scholarship purely because there may not be the “necessary facilities” at the local preparatory colleges is such a pathetic excuse. To me, it's the simplest thing of all to build disabled facilities, and the hardest thing to come by is talent. Hence if the talent is indeed shown to be available, the such facilities must be build to ensure the talent and potential of the Malaysian is maximised. Read also letters to the Star here and here which highlighted the Governments lack of care for the disabled achievers.
Furthermore the reason given by Pn Hasniah above is invalid in Albert's case for he isn't seeking to study medicine, but instead to study Economics, whereby his disability will be absolutely no bearing. And this brings me to the bit where I think that some of these guys at the PSD are nincompoops. Pn Hasniah absurdly argued that
[i]n Wong’s case... he might have been disadvantaged because he was a pure-science student but had applied for an economics degree for which applicants need at least a 2A in Basic Economics and either Principles of Accounts, Commerce or Entrepreneurship Studies – subjects that he did not take in his SPM exam.What sort of nonsense is that???
While I'm not a Pure Science student (I took Physics and Chemistry without Biology, but with Geography and English Literature), I certainly did not take Economics for my 'O' Levels (I barely even knew such a subject existed). Without being overly immodest, I dare say that I did extremely well for Economics both in 'A' Levels and at University. It is absolutely unnecessary for students who wishes to read Economics to have prior studies at 'O'-Levels or SPM for Basic Economics, Principles of Accounts, Commerce or Entrepreneurship studies!
Now, if one wants to pursue Medicine studies and they have not been a Pure Science student with Biology as a key subject, I can completely understand the rejection. But for Arts and Social Sciences related degrees where the emphasis is on analytical thinking capabilities and less on technical knowledge, prior studies of any subject is irrelevant!
Who are these civil servants in PSD making these absolutely ridiculous rulings and policies? Do they really know what they are doing at all? These are supposed to be the important people who are supposed to be wise to the ways of higher education and their requirements. The evidence so far points to incompetent fools running the show!
Thankfully, in Albert's case, the media highlighted it and the Cabinet made the decision that he should be supported.
... Cabinet members decided that the country’s top special-needs student, who obtained 12 1As in last year’s examination, should be given due assistance. For a start, Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman will meet with Albert and his family as soon as possible to discuss how the Government can best help him pursue his studies.Like civil servants who run helter skelter to carry out instructions of their superiors “to the letter”, Albert was immediately awarded a scholarship without even having to attend a scholarship interview! As highlighted in the Star today:
PSD Training Division officer Azman Ishak called on Albert at his home here to present him with the offer letter and to explain the terms and conditions of the scholarship to him and his parents. The scholarship covers the remainder of Albert's A-Levels programme at Kolej Damansara Utama (KDU) and a three-year University of London (external programme) Bachelor of Law (LL.B) programme, also at KDU.Congratulations must go to Albert for securing his scholarship! However, big question marks must be attached to the manner in which PSD carries out its scholarship allocation and award process. In addition, it appears that it's perfectly alright for a pure science student to pursue a career in law, but not okay to study Economics.
Final footnote, particularly to Albert if he sees this post - with all due respect to the University of London external law programme, I'd like to suggest that if he does well for his 'A' Levels, aim higher and apply for the top universities in the United Kingdom or United States. It'll make a world of a difference.