Sunday, May 14, 2006

Scholarship Heartbreaks

Predictably, with more than 15,000 applicants vying for some 1,300 scholarships, there's always going to be heartbreaks for some of our top SPM students, even in the perfect world scenario whereby the scholarships award by Jabatan Perkhidmatan Awan (JPA) is carried out in a fair and square manner, absent of human errors of judgement and bias. To quote the editorial by the New Straits Times (NST) on Saturday:
With more than nine in 10 of the applicants for the overseas scholarships offered this year by the Public Service Department destined to be disappointed, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that the education bureaus of Umno, MCA and MIC would be deluged with calls from disgruntled candidates, or that newspapers would be filled with sob stories about bright and industrious school prefects from poor families who did not make the cut.
The whole scholarship picture becomes a tad absurd when one can practically picture journalist with ready written scholarship injustice pieces. All they needed was to eye any of the students with 10 1As and above who gets rejected and fill in the necessary blanks such as the name, number of As, subject of study, country intended etc. I must say that over the years, while the bulk of my sympathies has always been (and still are) with the students, a little bit of it has shifted over to the JPA.

Take the case of Yeo Chin Hooi. His plight was highlighted in the NST on Friday last week.
Yeo Chin Hooi swotted and crammed for 17 papers in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia examinations last year, hoping to get the grades to get him into medical school. The years of study paid off: He scored 15 A1s. He also got an A2 for English and a B3 for English for science and technology.

Son of a lorry driver and a factory worker, he dreamt of securing a scholarship from the Public Service Department. The dream was shattered yesterday.
Believe me, my sympathies are with Chin Hooi. However, whether, as one of his teachers put it, “Yeo deserved a scholarship because he was from a poor family and had studied hard,” and hence deserve an automatic place for a scholarship, is another matter altogether.

In my opinion, nobody, even those with perfect scores deserves a scholarship award automatically. Naturally, those with top grades will have an edge in securing the scholarships, but the award should not be automatic as a fair few other factors do matter in the process. Readers may note that while I've written often with regards to scholarship woes faced by Malaysian students, particularly with JPA, they have always been with regards to the process and administration of the scholarships, and not with whether a candidate deserved the scholarship.

Hence I'll repeat again some of the points which I have raised before in an earlier post on scholarship reforms. The issue is not whether Chin Hooi should be given a scholarship, but the scholarship administration and process which needs to be thoroughly revamped to prevent the circus from repeating itself annually.

1. University scholarships should not be awarded after Form 5 (SPM/'O' Levels)

Why should a student, not even certain of university entrance (or at least which university) be awarded a university scholarship? What is the rationale for that?

In the past, the silliness of the process might not have been as serious due to the fact that the number of top scorers aren't that many. However, with as many as 10,000 students with comparable results of some 8As or more, the entire selection process to award the scholarships becomes completely unmanageable.

Is this the best way our limited tax payers funds and the country's resources are being utilised?

2. Is 30% of all scholarships allocated to Medicine students excessive?

I'm not in the best position to judge how important Medicine is relative to other subjects like Engineering, Economics or even Political Science. However, I'd like to think that reserving some 30% of scholarships for Medicine students a little excessive. Yes, despite the fact that Chin Hooi above failed to get a place among the 400 students given scholarships to study Medicine.


Here's some constructive suggestions for the relevant authorities for reform of the university scholarship administration and processes.

1. Create Pre-University Scholarships

Should scholarships be awarded after SPM, I believe that they should only be for pre-university courses which can take anywhere between 1-2 years. That way, all top SPM students can be awarded places for these courses without being subjected to subjective evaluations such as school testimonials or interviews. The scholarships awarded for these courses which are conducted locally should definitely be affordable.

The only possible exception to this is if the student have received entry into a top university overseas.

2. Undergraduate Scholarships

Overseas undergraduate scholarships should only be confirmed and awarded after the students have been offered a place at a top university. Why should scholarships be awarded to the students even before they have qualified for a place at a top university overseas?

The way I look at it, if Cambridge is happy to accept the student for a place to study Physics, there is little reason for scholarship to be denied to him or her. Unless of course, the student informs the scholarship body that he or she doesn't intend to return to motherland after completing studies.

This suggestion is also clearly supported (indirectly) by the Zahid Higher Education Report.
137. The Committee recommends that the practice of sending undergraduates overseas be reviewed. It is probable that only a small number need to be sent overseas to excellent and highly ranked universities to pursue courses in selected disciplines which are critical to national development.
Our systems have resulted in many students receiving scholarships to pursue tertiary studies at universities overseas which are sometimes ranked lower than even the local public universities. I'm aware for example of students being sent on scholarship to countries such as Russia or Indonesia to study medicine.

Our neighbours down south do not send anywhere near as many students on scholarships overseas, and yet I've never heard of any annual “complaints” of denial of scholarship, despite their well endowed coffers. This is because it is clear that only students who qualify into universities of distinction overseas will be given an opportunity to secure a scholarship.

3. Scholarships for Medicine Studies

Malaysia is an interesting country whereby it appears that many students feel that it is the Government's responsibility to provide scholarships for studies in Medicine. As far as I'm aware, there are hardly any scholarships available for students pursuing medicine, and almost as few for those pursuing a degree in law.

Given that it appears that one of the strongest pull factor in pursuing medicine studies is the lucrative long term returns, whether as a general practitioner or a specialist, should the government be offering scholarships for these courses? It doesn't help that Medicine courses are by far the most expensive among all undergraduate degrees.

4. Distinguish between Student Loans & Scholarships

Now, not granting scholarships is different from not financing education. Students who don't qualify for scholarships should still have easy access to student loans at attractive interest rates to ensure that all qualified students are not denied higher education opportunities due to the lack of funds. This is also one of the recommendations made by the Zahid Higher Education Report.
107. The Committee recommends that no eligible student who has been offered a seat at an institution of higher education at diploma or undergraduate level be denied the opportunity to learn because of financial difficulties.
Hence even if students like Chin Hooi whose scholarship was rejected (possibly with valid reasons), they should not be denied student loans to ensure that he could pursue his tertiary education in the courses of his choice.

I think its seriously time for JPA and other relevant government agencies to re-look at the existing scholarship scheme and processes to ensure that the country is making full use of our limited financial resources, instead of the current state of affairs which appear to be haphazard and poorly administered.


As for Chin Hooi (and others like him) – being denied a scholarship at this stage after SPM is not worth crying about.
"I don't really know what to do next. My heart is set on becoming a doctor, and I have worked hard for the last two years to achieve this goal," he said.
There's still plenty of time and options available, even if he is absolutely certain that he wants to pursue a degree in medicine. Chin Hooi can proceed to complete his STPM or 'A' Levels or other equivalent qualification to obtain his place in either the local or foreign universities.

74 comments:

Tiara said...

The problems with the scholarships system here in Malaysia are:

1) They're too skewed towards science (and maybe business). ASTRO's scholarships are probably the first ones to break this mold.

2) Majority of them have this stipulation that you must work with the company for about 2-5 years. I haven't seen any other country have scholarships with this rule.

3) Majority of the scholarships don't let you get other scholarships to supplement this one. Also uniquely a Malaysian thing.

4) Too many of them have grades as their sole criteria (besides financial need). Well-rounded students who may not necessarily be straight-A students lose out.

There isn't enough diversity of scholarships out there to honour and assist people of all sorts of abilities and personalities. (There is even a scholarship for left-handed people in the US, for goodness sake!)

And too many people take up medicine only for the scholarship money - how do we know that all those people really want to serve people through healthcare? Who's really committed to the goal, and who's just in it because it's the thing to do?

15000 applications, 8000 scholarships. Obviously not everyone can get one. There really isn't any use boohooing over "OMG I GOT STRAIGHT AS HOW COME I GET NO MONEY". Look, it's not just the As you know. It's so many other things. You need to be more than your transcript.

This is certainly a sobering thought to those who think straight As and ONLY straight As can get you anywhere. You need to be prepared for all other possibilities in life.

lyl said...

The thing about Malaysian students is that they think they DESERVE the scholarship upon getting good results. One like Chin Hooi should seriously think twice about complaining - especially when he gets an A2 for English. One can only wonder what he got for his GCE O-level English grade.

Do remember that bolehland's english standard is severely mediocre already. For a good student, not gettin an A1 would directly equate to a poor grasp in the language. Hence, if one has a poor grasp of English, should they really blame JPA when they are rejected?

Do remember that English is important in the interview part for the JPA scholarship.

Once again I agree that more transparency is needed for the selection of the scholarships. A lot of good students with impressive CVs were denied this scholarship.

Tony, can you comment on the statistical breakdown of the allocation of JPA scholarships as reported by the Sin Chiew Daily on Thursday?

Also, please remember to highlight the plight of my friend, as you wrote

"The only possible exception to this is if the student have received entry into a top university overseas. "

Anonymous said...

i totally agree that scholarships should not be given out immediately after SPM. there is no guarantee that these recipients are capable of entering to the Top 20 universities in the world. in fact, many don't and end up enrolling to second-tier unis and colleges in the states.

regarding Tiara's 3rd point "Majority of the scholarships don't let you get other scholarships to supplement this one. Also uniquely a Malaysian thing." actually, this is quite common anywhere in the world. the reason is simply because scholarship-awarding organisations do not want recipients to be given too much financial help from multiple sources. remember, we need to spread the wealth so that more people gets an opportunity to study. we can't let a handful grab all scholarships available from different orgs for themselves.

Elizabeth said...

Chin Hooi's eldest sister dropped out of Form Four because their family could not afford it. I dare say none of you have been in such financial straits, myself included, Tiara included.

For this, for his determination, and for the fact that he got 15A1s, I believe he deserves the scholarship. I seen so many undeserving candidates that I believe students like that should get the scholarships automatically.

Of course, looking at it from another point of view, he doesn't automatically qualify for a scholarship, but relatively speaking, when all the other top scorers are automatically awarded a scholarship, bond-free, it's hard to justify why Chin Hooi COULDN'T get the scholarship.

Also, you mention that he could take A Levels. A Levels cost an upwards of RM 15 000 onwards, nearing RM 30 000 if you don't say with your family and you go to one of the better private colleges offering A Levels.

He could do STPM, but really, when others in his position get scholarships to study in some pre-university program somewhere before being shipped off to the country of their choice, it's one bitter pill to take.

Also, it's hard to be 'well-rounded' in a system where education emphasizes grades. I'm not defending the unhealthy focus on grades, I'm just saying it's much harder to be 'well-rounded' in Malaysia - you need money, you need understanding and enlightened parents. So, be slightly sympathetic to Chin Hooit's plight can anot?

I believe that the JPA selection process should change for the same reasons you mentioned, and I also believe that one of the reasons that the government offers scholarships after SPM is because they don't have faith in our education system.

Anonymous said...

Getting straight As nowadays is no longer a big deal. It is necessary but insufficient in itself to guarantee a scholarship. Honestly, if I were JPA, I would opt for a 10A1 student (with an A1 in 9111) than for one with 15A1s, but with an A2 in English (9111 could be B4?). Doing more (irrelevant) subjects does not equate to elevated intelligence. If anything, it only shows how indecisive you are.

Seriously, ever since one dude got 13A1s in SPM 2000, everyone seems to think that the more As he/she gets, the brighter his/her chances of getting a scholarship. Do they actually think that their A1 in Perdagangan or English for Science and Tech (never even heard of this subject) could translate into anything worthwhile? I'm not trying to belittle the efforts of those with ridiculous amounts of As, but if say Perdagangan was made mandatory to everyone, I wouldn't be surprised that any 10A1 top scorer would get another A1.

And I agree that scholarships should only be handed out after a student has attained entry into established universities. I remember when i was doing my International Baccalaureate, some of my mates could not get a place into any of the UK universities for medicine, but because they were already promised a degree in this subject, they were eventually sent to some random NZ universities, whose quality may be even worse than UM.

I would like to reiterate that i never said getting straight A1s is not important, rather getting ridiculous amounts of A1s does not equate to excellence.

Finally, I always get amused when I stumble upon reports in The Star by some youngsters/parents who emphasised that getting straight A1s is not everything. Only low achievers (or people who are really rich, and not dependent on scholarships) have this mentality, and trying to justify their or their children's lack of academic ability will only worsen the situation.

Anonymous said...

Yes, Elizabeth, lyzzy?

You're corret, you need money to be a all-rounder. That basically answers why so many Malaysians fail to meet the expectations of AOs of top American Universties.

Chin Hooi scored an A2 for BM, not English. Do take note guys.

Other than that, good pointers from Tony especially on undergrad scholarships.

Anonymous said...

Agreed that being an all-round high-achiever is not everyone's ball game. Only a handful of people (and I mean it literally) are capable, and to top it off, usually do require strong financial backgrounds and very liberal parents.

The sad fact is that majority of Malaysians do not have these backgrounds to begin with. We have always been brought up to do well academically. Period.

As young students, we all dream of having a better life. Education is one of the best ways to achieve that. Not many are able to lead a life like, for exp, Suzanne Lee. So these students work hard where they are able to .. which is mugging day and night to achieve excellent grades. Don't fault them for trying, they're only doing their best so that they can achieve better things in life. While the whole education system in Malaysia is not perfect, they make do with it and try to excel.

The whole scholarship issue is a big public mess every year since the past .. 5 years or so. The education ministry needs to:

1. Limit the number of subjects one can take for SPM. About 10 should be enough.

2. Reduce scholarships given to SPM holders and instead award more to Pre-U level students.

3. Be more transparent to the whole process.

4. Improve our exam standards at all levels from SPM to undergrad. Too many As (some as high as 60-70%) in a class is just getting ridiculous. What's the significance of these As, and we all know who's behind it and for what agenda.

5. Give out flexible low-interest loans for those who were not able to receive their scholarships.

6. Possibly create financial packages and aids (ala US uni and college style) instead of giving guaranteed full scholarships.

Just my 2c

pseudo A said...

The more "A" a person get, the better he is "valued". Also remember that the more people with straight "As" around, the lower the value for each "A" obtained. Seriously, if you were to look at the number of students getting "A" for Maths paper in the previous SPM exams, you'll be shocked to know almost 1/3 of them getting A.

I personally believe that the number of subjects taken by the students should be limited (say, 10?). What's the point of pushing the students too much that they neglect other better things in life (e.g ko-k), most of them end up as purely bookworm.

What is needed here is more indepth syllabus and better grading system for the public examinations. There is no point having exams if it is difficult for everyone to separate the top/good/fair/poor-standard students.

Anonymous said...

Chin Hooi deserves some recognition for his effort.

Here is a boy who got a D for English in UPSR, 4As in PMR and proceeded to get 15A1s + 1 A2 + 1 B3 in the SPM.

As he wrote :

"I am so disappointed when i knew that i was rejected for JPA scholarship. I got 15A1, 1 A2 and 1 B3. Actually i got A2 for my BM paper not BI paper. There is some mistake in the article. I quite active in my co-curriculum and i am the presiden for two association. Besides that, i have performed very good in the interview. I think there have some mistake>>>>>>>>>>>>.. Futhermore, i also come from a poor family with total income less that RM 2500.00 a month."


However, his methodology of learning is a bit disturbing.

In a forum, he talked about his learning "tactics" :

"For example, i wake up at 2.45 am every day to do my revision because i know my talent is not that good. If u only do 50% is ok. Try to increase it step by step . May be the next week u can increase 60% and so on. "

also



"Actually, i not straight wake up at 2.45 am in one day. I go step by step. Firstly, i wake up at 5am for one month, then i try to wake up at about 4 in the second month , then after some time, u will use to it. For me , i prefer to do revision at the morning and when in the afternoon i will do school work . while in the night, i will do extra exercises."


and when asked where he seeks his entertainment :

"I do have some entertainment. Just the way i have it a little bit different from you. For example, i only watch tv when i am eating, walking around as my sport"

Does these acts justify a well rounded person? Hm ....

Easy going said...

Anonymous Mon May 15, 06:48:34 AM gave a very good six-point comment.

Anonymous said...

It is obvious that we start a very bad precedent by offering scholarships at SPM level long time ago..

Probably this is done to complement the streamlining of students into matriculation and other foundational studies..

Then after some time, we see more students are getting more A's each year..

Then we see there is a trend that students are taking too many subjects (over ten) and having more A's...

These days our students are certainly better than our students in early 70s judging from the results..

But is this the case?

IMHO, students should prove their scholastic level by taking A level
first going for those scholarships.

Obviously we need a strong political will from our ministry to go back to basics...

the right basics..

Anonymous said...

To Anon @ Mon May 15, 11:47:21 AM,

Whoah.. that's quite an eye-opener!

Anonymous said...

It is very simple...if everything is transparent in everything the government does than all 'so called errors' in giving scholarships can be avoided.

Scholarships are really meant to deserving students who are intelligent and have not the means to finance his way through education

As I see it, too many undeserving parents rich enough are still eating out of the poor man's alms !

SHAME ON YOU RICH PEOPLE!

Stop ebtertaing the SPM students, just give scholarships at STPM level....

Anonymous said...

Erm, pardon my ignorance here but if you do give out scholarships to STPM students, what about the matriculation students? Just a thought here.

As for the 15A1 student, did he apply for BNM's scholarship? The 13A1s students got it didn't they?

youngyew said...

Just to inform everyone that the forum mentioned in one of the previous comments is ReCom, the Worldwide Malaysian Student Network. The quoted paragraphs come from this thread.

I wish him good luck. He deserves the scholarship so much more than the others, even with the A2 in BM.

youngyew said...

Also this thread.

Anonymous said...

BNM does not offer scholarships to do medicine.

Anonymous said...

I'm a PSD scholarship reject and i truly believe that he should get the scholarships. Things aside, i feel that there is nothing more to say nor discuss about the PSD scholarship. Be it their carelessness, unfairness or whatever, PSD will never ever increase the number of scholarship. Every single year, we will definitely come across some hoo-haa about the rejects of PSD, while some critised PSD for not being transparent enough in awarding ther scholarship. I'm one of the many rejects and know how Yeoh felt about all this. Lastly, i just want to sya such 'things' will never ever come to an end.

Anonymous said...

We don't want an increase in PSD/JPA scholarships. We only demand fairness and equality. That is all, nothing more. Make it fair.

Anonymous said...

Why your 1st suggestion will not be implemented:

If the government were to award scholarships to STPM students (and at the same time abolish the matriculation stream), the number of bumi students awarded the scholarship will fall drastically, unless of course the government make the exam as ridiculously easy like the matriculation or SPM. Anyway, I do agree with you that University Scholarship should not be awarded after one's SPM, simply because I know friends who have done well for their O levels fare badly for their A levels.

And it is saddening to see that the PSD scholarships are tenable at universities like Purdue (with close to a 80% acceptance rate and SAT score in the 1200s), Ohio STATE University or the London EXTERNAL program. The JPA scholarship should in fact be tenable only at ivy-league or ivy-league standard schools like MIT, Stanford, Penn, Amherst and Williams so that we ensure that the best and brightest are awarded only.

In addition, I think that it is stupid requirement that states that one has to hold a SPM cert in order to borrow from the Higher Education loans. My friend for example got an ASEAN scholarship to Singapore in Secondary 1. Now that he wants to study in IMU and has to borrow $$ to fund his education, he needs to take the SPM for the sake of that cert.

Anonymous said...

For Yeo Chin Hooi, i think he is too obsessed with the numbers of A's, with the misperception that the more A's he has, the better chance for him to secure a PSD scholarhip. In the end, he didn't manage to score a perfect mark. Moreover, he scored a A2 in Malaysian English paper, which is relatively low in standard. If he had fewer subjects, he would have scored better, thus improved his chance of getting what he desired all this while.

However, he shouldn't be too sad. I am sure that there are some big corporations whom might offer him a scholarhip, since the news is currently a big hit in the nation.

Anonymous said...

To anon @ Mon May 15, 06:23:52 PM,

I think they were refering to the BNM "special" scholarships, where the recepients were given a free hand of doing whatever they want with it.

While you may make a case for him not getting it, I would also like to point out that a friend of mine who scored 14A1s also did not receive that special scholarship. Does he deserve it? Hell yea. He represented malaysia at the IMO and was the overall champion for the national physics quiz. So how come he wasnt given it?

Ill let u ponder about it.
[ he did get the JPA though, as some means of consolation]

Anonymous said...

Yeo had A2 for BM not english, the paper made a mistake!!!

Anonymous said...

To all those who continue to criticise Chin Hooi, look yourself in the mirror, and ask this "What have I achieved in my life?"

And BTW, stop harping on his A2 for Eng, it's not even correct. He had an A2 for BM, NOT Eng.

daniel said...

I agree with you, Tony. JPA scholarsips should not be awarded post SPM because it just does not make sense. The money saved from stopping these ridiculous practice runs into billions and should, instead, be used to upgrade our STPM and university facilities and to attract some good teachers, lecturers and professors to serve here.

Reward the top STPM performers with local university scholarships while only the really outstanding ones or who have gained admission into ivy league (or maybe restricted to the top 50) universities, get scholarships to study overseas.

Financial firepower can than be conserved for deserving Masters and doctorate candidates to pursue their studies and research overseas. This should achieve the best ROI for the amount of money allocated.

Francis said...

I personally think that the Public Service Department is being totally biased when giving away scholarships when some of them does not even have what it takes to compete with the rest and they still got the scholarship just because of their origins.I for one was one of the candidates who failed to secured a place among PSD scholar and I totally pitied the student who scored 15A1 and still failed to receive PSD.I was quite surprised to know that he actually have A2 for BM ,which might be reason he was rejected apart from his B3 in EST .However, I must express my concern that students nowadays considers taking 13 to 17 subjects in SPM is a good way of showing your ability to others .Have any of them wonder they was having the wrong impression? Take Chin Hooi for instant , he tried to be the second Amalina,hoping to get the scholarship.Unfortunately,he FAILED!!Some of you may feel sympathy for him (I'm sure I did),but when you look into this matter seriously, you would find out that he took subject that have no connection with the course he is planning to take which is medicine.Why would someone who wants to take medicine be taking economy and other art stream related subjects? I would like to see him explain to me why he make such a risk.I am totally aware that some of you out there may mock me for my opinion but I have make my stand and I'm sticking to it.

Anonymous said...

Haiyaaaaa!!!!
Apa mau gaduh gaduh ini scholarship??!!
Takda scholarship minta duit dari Along lah!
Along bolih tolong kasi duit banyak2

Anonymous said...

Francis, no, I do not mock you but agree with you. Let me quote you a true story, a boy whom I know very well, wanted to take an extra subject in SPM in 2002, however his parents stopped him as this subject, Accounting, was not taught in his class ( being in a Science class )and his parents explained to him and asked him to concentrate on the 9 subjects that he was preparing since 2001. The boy was a bit disappointed to miss the so called " free" A in Accounting, since his parents refused to pay for the tuition fess for the Accounting. Thus leaving him no choice but to just concentrate on the 9 subjects and participate actively in many extra curricular activities. Well, to cut the long story short, he went on to achieve 9 A1s and was awarded the PSD scholarship. He did equally well too in the A levels - 4As.
So the bottom line.... I leave to it you all .............
But whatever it is, it still baffles me why Chin Hooi is rejected as I understand that the minimum requirement for BM is A2.

Regards,
LLL

Anonymous said...

This may be off-topic, but after reading the quotes by anon15/5-11:47, I am appalled at the standard of english for SPM.

sheriff singh said...

New Sunday Times, May 14, pages 16 and 17.

This is a two full pages advertisment by UiTM (Universiti Technologi Mara) announcing its 50 Years Anniversary this year 2006.

It lists the 13 criterias (dimensions) set by the Ministry of Higher Education for a local university to be regarded as “world class”.

Well, apparantly UiTM has satisfied all the 13 dimensions.

It has already made firm plans to declare UiTM a “World Class University” in November this year and the one making the announcement and declaration will be the King himself.

With local 'world class' universities, why bother to go overseas when its all happening here?

We can already deliver cheap world class education locally. So no need for scholarships to go overseas to study. Save money. Stay at home. Belilah barangan Malaysia.

Anonymous said...

Going abroad can have its advantages like it is an education in itself and is an added bonus to the degree scholarship and degree provided you complete it. However, staying and doing it with a good local university can have its advantages provided if there is fair play in getting admitted in irrespective of culture.

student said...

the problem with scholarships here is that there is a tension between giving to really smart, really talented students who can then come home to serve the country, or to give to those who have done well but do not have the necessary financial backing to pursue their dreams.

PSD needs to make it clear if it is giving merit based or need based scholarships. It hasn't done so, and currently it has a weird system of scoring with grades, extra curriculars, parents income etc. all being taken into account.

Perhaps it could allot a number of merit based scholarships, and a number of need based scholarships, and then students can compete for both. Scholarships are competitive and the best should get them -- while there are very impressive PSD scholars, the quality of some is questionable.

Bottom line is PSD needs to make their selection criteria very transparent, and while they have tried to do that, the present system clearly does not work.

Also, PSD needs to make sure that they take care of scholars, to have them come back after studying. One way: good, respectable jobs. Some of the job offers are laughable.

The way PSD has handled the scholarship awarding process has obviously led to many a disgruntled student and parent -- I have heard countless times of disappointed students who have found one way or other to go abroad and have vowed never to come back, and I know of a great many who are yet to return home.

We talk about a brain drain, the PM has gone to London and such to coax students home -- perhaps we need to be looking right here in Malaysia for solutions to the problem, dear government.

PSD needs to revamp the entire scholarship program, and it must let students know that it is not their right to a scholarship. Spending 16 years of your life studying hard for SPM just so you can get a scholarship to study medicine abroad is not good enough. A good student will continually search for ways and opportunities to achieve their dreams.

Anonymous said...

The harsh truth is...if you are a non Malay, you can only afford to get an A2 (the rest being straight A1s). Even so, your chances of getting a JPA scholarship is as good as 1/100000. With a B3, you can start to consider STPM.

Anonymous said...

I totally agree with you on how the Public Service Department is selecting their so-called "Qualified" student.

I have seen students who achieved 6A1,2A2,2B3,1B4 AND 1C5 received the PSD scholarship to go to Korea for engineering courses.What about other students who are really cut out for it? I'm not trying to be racist but over 80% of the scholarships given are meant for the bumis.

What is our country's future going to be when the colour of your skin still matters in the question of education? I have friends who scored more As than me but still denied the place by PSD and Matriculation.

For you out there who wish to know more about the unjustice happening within the education system of Malaysia, kind visit the following website:

http://www.doctorjob.com.my/forum/display_message.asp?currentmessageid=7&mid=29989&page=2&sort=

rakyat said...

He can also apply for ASEAN scholarship and study in Singapore instead. After his A levels, he can apply for the Singapore local scholarships or overseas scholarships to study medicine.

Anonymous said...

A friend of mind told me when his daughter got her SPM results, he was so surprise that she got an A's in her Add Maths although she fail most of the time in her school text. So can you all imagine how is our SPM standard.

Also I can think of any valid reason MCA can convince JPA if you had A2 for BM, B3 for EST, 4As in PMR and D for English in UPSR. If you think that you deserve, what about those who got 10A1 and much more better grade in their PMR and UPSR?

Common guys this is Malaysia. If you couldn't get an A1 for BM and want a gov. scholarship, don't dream cos' you are a yeo.

Anonymous said...

Typo mistake, 2nd para: Also I can't think of

Anonymous said...

Hmm, i remember during my SPM year, a number of students, including me scored A1 in our BM trial paper. But when the actual us got at most a B3 only, while all other subjects A1. Do you people think that's possible? Trial standards are lower than SPM?

Nah, they did this purposely, to ensure that we don't compete with bumis by using bad BM result as an excuse.

And then, bumis can enter Form 6 as long as they didn't failed their BM although their science and mathematics sucks. Come on, who would have failed his/her own mother tongue anyway? And non-bumis who scored all A1's but failed BM can't enter Form 6. What's the rational behind all these?

And AAB keep on preaching on importance of human capital blablabla. Cakap tak serupa bikin. All we that stupid?

What a f***ing government.

Anonymous said...

Dear rakyat, I believe you live in Utopia.

Gaining a place to do medicine in Singapore especially when one is a foreigner is nothing less than a miracle. So let's not talk about medical scholarships given by Singapore.

undergrad said...

well, i think that the whizz kid - adi putra deserves a 'genius' scholarship for his dazzling skills in solving maths beyond form 5 level instead of learning ABC and 123 in Standard One. :)

Francis said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

come on..i totally agree with wat someone said earlier..the government won't increase the quality of SPM papers or give out scholarships based on STPM..Y??

1. If the quality of SPM increases...then wat will happen to the bumis? How will the government "justify" their actions of giving out scholarships to them?? They can't.

2. Have u ever wondered y all the JPA-rejects which "deserved" the scholarship but din get and appeared in newspapers to plea and whine are CHINESE????

3. The government is just protecting the bumis man..so all the rejects who think they deserve scholarships..make JPA ur last choice..go search for other scholarships somewhere else..and don't blame the government for it..after all..the government is just trying to "help" the bumis..albeit in a wrong way..right?

4. oh and all of you shouldn't blame ppl for taking up so many subjects..since even if u study real hard and real in depth for 10 SPM subjects..u still get 10 A1s...and if u like study OK OK only..you also get 10 A1s..so wats the point?? look at Singapore..the percentage of ppl scoring straight A1s are much lower than in M'sia..and their students are world beaters in academic exams..( i'm not saying being world beaters in sub a field is good) so what went wrong wif our education system??

a lot..i would say.

Francis said...

I totally disagree with anonymous's comment on his B3 in BM.The government may have fixed the low passing rate for BM, it is not a rational accusation that the education department is out to get the non-bumis.The results for all candidates are strictly examined and the examiners will never whose paper they are reading because we are only recognized by our code number.Getting an A1 in your trial papers doesn't mean you're bound to achieve A1 in SPM too.

However, I would like express my concern on the high rate fixed by the goverment for BC.I have classmates who represented my state to the national chinnesse debate competition and even essay writing competitions held by the chinnese comunity could not even get an A1 for BC.

I was explained by a teacher that the education department purposely place the high qualification rate for students who took BC just because the Malays weren't taking it.

Geeting an A2 in BC meant the end for students who intended on getting the PSD Scholarship due to the so-called "11 staight A1 is better than 11A1 and an A2" When will all of this end ?

Anonymous said...

I took BC for SPM and got an A1 as well!! I must be really good in BC....XP
The thing is, PSD award it's scholarship to many who did not get straight A1 for their SPM but from what i see, those who got it(not straight A1s)took many subjects!! (a whopping of 13-14 subjects) By the way, i one of the many rejects of PSD..

Anonymous said...

Want to have fair and transparent in giving out scholarship. What a big joke. Do you all know that starting this year all schools supplier with value of 10K and above for that particular item must go to 100% bumi co. As such students be prepare to pay more for your annual magazine, t-shirt and etc. Some school already received circular that new canteen operator must go to bumi only.

Anonymous said...

Does you all believe that there is some bias in SPM marking? From my observation my relative in kampong schools can get an As in BM although her standard is not so good. Wheras a friend in Chung Hwa which is quite good can only got a B3. According to him no many people there can get an A1.

Anonymous said...

Our government is bound by law to help the bumis. 30 years of NEP, and you see the effects. So why the whining and bitching? We all know the realities of life here in Malaysia. No point making noise. Nothing's gonna change.

But what we can do is work harder. Find alternative sources of funding. I tell you, it's a hell of a good training and definitely builds character. We compete among ourselves. It sucks, but when you succeed, you will damn sure your life's gonna be all good from then.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Anonymous said...

To Anon tue may 16, 10:36:20 am

If you failed BM, not only you can't enter form 6 but you failed your whole SPM. You got X and no cert.

Francis said...

Enough of this talk about the biased action when giving thePSD scholarships.

It is the time for those who failed in getting it to stand up from the disappointment and make an appeal through the help of politicians.

For those who aren't thinking of making an appeal, try and find other scholarships that would assist you in reaching for the goals in life.

Yusli Mustaffa said...

That' why me must have a saving for education. parents must obtain insurance or takfulfor education.

Http://tutorakaun.blogspot.com

edu$ said...

I agreed with what yusli mustaffa just mentioned. It is good to plan for the children education. However, not to forget that primary and secondary education these days itself already take up a big chunk of the family resources. Unlike 50 years ago where children is an asset (started working at 5), they are now purely (expensive!) liability to parents. As such, we need meritocracy here to ensure that the nation limited resources is wisely channeled to "exploit" the full talents of academically excellent students. And of course opportunities should also accorded to the not that well to do families too.

Anonymous said...

but the generation prior that's currently having to fork out unbelieveable amounts of money just so that their kids can have a decent education came from the 70s-80s. and if you realized, that era wasn't exactly the booming years where newly-weds and those just startin a family was able to set aside funds for their childrens education.

these days, a student attending to private colleges/universities are having to spend at least RM70k-100k just to study locally. what about those who go overseas? i reckon it's at least RM150k but more likely around RM200k just for a first degree. multiply that by the avg number of children (i believe 3) and u get something like RM300k-500k just for higher education. and we haven't included other educational costs throughout their lives e.g. tuition, books, supplies, etc.

education in Malaysia is a gold mine. every private college knows that. and it's sad that students and parents are having to bear the most of it. if our public universities were of good standing, we wouldn't have the problem of thousands of families having to mortgage houses, sell-off cars, etc. just to send their kids overseas for a first degree.

then the sad truth hits these graduates when they return - poor pay, long hours, etc. and to make matters worst, the gov then has the chic to label these graduates who work overseas as not patriotic?!? little do they realise that the main reason why these graduates refuse to return is so that they can pay off their loans and other financial problems.

Tiara said...

Finally, I always get amused when I stumble upon reports in The Star by some youngsters/parents who emphasised that getting straight A1s is not everything. Only low achievers (or people who are really rich, and not dependent on scholarships) have this mentality, and trying to justify their or their children's lack of academic ability will only worsen the situation.

Way to insult everyone who has spent considerable effort and time and energy into things they are actually INTERESTED in that just so happen to not be academic.

For the record: my sister got straight As, government won't give her a scholarship (not a citizen). She did her A-Levels in Sunway, and then went all the way to Ph.D. in the UK. Self-supported at first (what to do, no other option) but got scholarships along the way.

And my As never came to any use anywhere. I already don't qualify for scholarships here (none for my choice of course, wrong citizenship), and besides, of all the millions of things I did - NOBODY asked for my As. NO ONE.

yuiaki said...

dear friends,
Being a PSD Scholarship reject myself, i truly understand how it feels to be pushed aside. I secured 11A1s in my SPM 2003. I consider myself as an active person in school and I have involved in many activities ranging from school level to national level...
Too bad.. I never thought I would be rejected.
I remembered having a hard time trying to apply for it-stuck in National Service ( Summerset, Kuala Rompin camp,deserted area )...
my dad, a general worker, and my mum, a devoted housewife were very dissapointed when i was rejected.
Well, I just cant give up like that cuz i have 4 younger school-going sibling to set example for.
Did my STPM last year...straight As..

dear Chin Hooi and all of u...
never give up on urself...
LIFE PASSES BY TOO QUICKLY TO ALLOW A LITTLE PROBLEM TO GET YOU DOWN

as you walk along life's path, no matter how many obstacles u encounter, hope u'll find the torch to shine your way..

X-Man said...

Guys,

The number of good students increases every year. The number of scholarships increases too, but at a lower rate compared to the above, due to limited budget. Hence, the problem of high demand and low supply.

If you accuse that SPM is easy, then it is justified for only students with straight A1s to get it.

If you say that SPM should be made tougher, wouldn't that deny the weaker students to even pass or get a credit in any given subject, therefore causing an increase in the number of SPM failures?

If you say that there are some Government conspiracies to only favour certain part of society, then what are you proposing? Transparency? Since when transparency has ever been accepted as the norm for an interview?

In any job interview or university application interview here or anywhere in his world, there is no obligation for the interviewing party to disclose the reason(s) why they don't accept you, be it Harvard or Oxford or whatever so-called "Equal Opportunity" employer. They just say "SORRY, your application has been REJECTED. Try again next time." If you don't suit their requirements, they won't accept you, as simple as that. So, demanding transparency would create a new precedent to allow more politics, outside influence and interference to happen. Is that what you want?

As usual, racial biasness is the easiest excuse you can give if you don't get what you think you deserve, but bear in mind, there are many other good students out there who are better than you, without you knowing it.

Anonymous said...

In response to X-man above:

If you say that SPM should be made tougher, wouldn't that deny the weaker students to even pass or get a credit in any given subject, therefore causing an increase in the number of SPM failures?

I totally disagree with you. There is nothing wrong with improving standards even if it means having to sacrifice statistics. US universities, especially ivy's, are already preparing to implement stricter enforcement on grade distribution. Increasing number of failures will only further inspire students to work harder. Giving out free candy is NOT the way to go. Besides, any developed country has its fair share of dropouts and unemployment rates. Only Malaysia is foolish enough to falsify these figures so that we can achieve developed status by taking shortcuts. But make no mistake, this is a recipe for disaster when the next generation who takes over are people who have lived their lives on crutches.

In any job interview or university application interview here or anywhere in his world, there is no obligation for the interviewing party to disclose the reason(s) why they don't accept you, be it Harvard or Oxford or whatever so-called "Equal Opportunity" employer. They just say "SORRY, your application has been REJECTED. Try again next time." If you don't suit their requirements, they won't accept you, as simple as that.

There is a difference between "not meeting requirements" and being discriminated. Do bear that in mind.

So, demanding transparency would create a new precedent to allow more politics, outside influence and interference to happen. Is that what you want?

Yes, if precedence must be set, then so be it. It is better to suffer now, than to suffer later. We cannot just close our eyes and let injustice prevail.

As usual, racial biasness is the easiest excuse you can give if you don't get what you think you deserve, but bear in mind, there are many other good students out there who are better than you, without you knowing it.

While I do understand what you're trying to convey, again, I totally disagree with you given the current situation with how scholarships are given or how discriminatory policies are administered in the context of promotions, civil service, and training schemes. The stories are blatantly obvious, you can read it from the papers. What you are trying to say is akin to simply giving up and be damned for we have no optimism in life. You seem to exactly match the profile of Freud's Defense Mechanism theory on Rationalizing our failures.

If you say that there are some Government conspiracies to only favour certain part of society, then what are you proposing? Transparency? Since when transparency has ever been accepted as the norm for an interview?

Meritocracy and transparency should and must be implemented. If not in the short term, then we should try achieving it in the long run. For any country to be truly developed, it MUST prescribe to these ideologies. Period.

X-Man said...

In response to anonymous above:

"There is nothing wrong with improving standards even if it means having to sacrifice statistics."

OK. Let's make BM (and other subjects too, of course) tougher since people are complaining that it's too easy. Let's hope nobody complain that it's TOO hard after this.

"There is a difference between "not meeting requirements" and being discriminated. Do bear that in mind."

With due respect, do you receive any reply or justification if you fail your job interview?

"Yes, if precedence must be set, then so be it. It is better to suffer now, than to suffer later. We cannot just close our eyes and let injustice prevail."

You seem not to see the bigger problem if that kind of precedent is set. Everytime someone fails an interview, he can complain to higher authority, he can write in newspapers, he can ask for help from political leaders or he can write bad things about it in the internet. In your own words "any developed country has its fair share of dropouts and unemployment rates", and same goes that all interviews are bound to have people who will not get through it, and these people will complain. If this is the kind of system you want to be implemented, I am sure more of your so-called "discriminatory policies" will happen.

I agree that meritocracy should be the way to go, but how can it happen if people can't stop b*tching everytime they don't get through? You want meritocracy, we give meritocracy. Only straight-As students get JPA scholarship. Period.

Anonymous said...

How is this for a start...when I was doing my pre-U in a government-owned college, non-Malays tended to take the top 15 places in every semester exams. And there were only about 35 non Malays in the whole college. You talking about meritocracy? Go figure.

Anonymous said...

X-man, do you mean that only straight A's students are given scholarhips? Even if they are just bookworms or just memorising machines with nothing else in their mind? Without curricular activities, creativity, interacting skills, etc. Nothing?

Or we prefer an all-rounder?

Anonymous said...

The government doesn't need to be 100% transparent in the way they give out scholarships..but this is SOOOO OBVIOUS!!! come on man..everyone who is not ignorant knows that the government is protecting the Malays..everyone knows that they are trying to help Malay students to get reasonable grades and so on... and this is exactly y Malaysia can never hope to achieve world class education standards..let alone be a developed country by 2020...

Anonymous said...

To anon(may 18 03:53:05PM)
No straight A's student in Malaysia is like a memorizing machine, even the most introverted has his or her fair share of maybe creativity, skills and so on....

Anonymous said...

Tiara said...
'NOBODY asked for my As. NO ONE'.

Well I guess it depends on what field you are in. If you are in the entertainment field, of course As don't really matter. But in a truly professional field, results are proportional to the amount of theoretical and practical knowledge you have. Guess I don't have to remind you the difference between a doctor with a 1st class honours and one with a 3rd class. It could mean life or death.

Anonymous said...

Accepting a Malaysian Government Scholarship is the most stupid thing to do. You only think of short term.. but you must realised that once you accept it you are bonded by the Government for 10 years! That is no way to build a career. Your career depends on continuation of on the job training / experiences and perhaps the worst thing is that your experiences with the Malaysian Government isn't highly valued by the private or foreign multinationals in foreign countries! And worst, you may be stuck in a dead-end government job, without any promotion for the rest of your life!

I remember of my medical student friends in UM during my student days.. One of them told me that the JPA automatically gave all of them scholarships without even the students asking/applying for it and they are required to serve the government for 10 years! My friend told me, that all of them rejected the scholarships.

So, think about it... It is not a decision that effects only 4 / 5 years of your life but perhaps your entire life!

Anonymous said...

To Anon Mon Jun 05, 04:56:41 PM

I think is because you can't get and in order to please yourself you said this thing. I would say you are the most stupid in the world. People give you free and you also don't want. Do you know that others programme the bond is only 4 years or you pay back only 10K.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, imagine that... MIT / Stanford trained engineering graduate on a JPA scholarship, but forced to work for the Jabatan Bekalan Air Kuala Kangsar for 10 years... under a superior who graduated from UTM!

This is a hard reality about scholarships. I have heard of many stories from my former school teachers whom after accepting state scholarships,ended-up as teachers even though they graduated as engineers / chemists / economiest etc-etc.

The fact is that you handed over your career future to the scholarship bonders (government) when you should be bargaining with prospective employers in matters about salaries, benefits, stock-options etc-etc.

wong keat wai said...

It is quite scary.. The Parliment should enact a Law banning this form of "exploitation". In America for example, there is no such thing as scholarships with bonds! It is illegal.

It is ironic that in Malaysia, private corporations and the government are allowed to exploit the ignorance of our youths.

The few years after graduation is the most important period in their lives. They should have the liberty to choose their own lives, their own careers, where they want to work, for whom they want to work etc-etc.

BAN SCHOLARSHIPS WITH BONDS !!!

Anonymous said...

Cheer up... 10 or 20 years from now, you might even tell yourself how lucky you are to have your JPA scholarship application rejected. In fact, it might not even be important if you are a graduate or not!

Anonymous said...

i agree that PSD scholarship hopefuls may not necessary have a prospecful career..especially for non-malays where they will be sent to unknown and not internationally recognized universities and their only option is working within the boundary of malaysia...lets not bank on the government for our acedemic well-being...1 way or 2 we can find a way to further our studies without government's help...seek opportunity in our neighbour loh, singapore ..to avenge ur being a jpa reject then work there...so msia will experience tremendous brain drain..can only rely on its low currency exchange and cheap labour for its continual economic survival..want to talk about innovation , R&D, sciinctifc breakthrough, let them w8 1000 yrs la..since msia talents and geniuses have fled overseas .....wahahaahh

Anonymous said...

These are the dissapointing stories that recur and worsen every year. "Good complement" was givin to the previous "E"- Minister. Bravo Tony. I see no constructive matter done but oppression.

There are moment we all feel dissapointed and is getting frust upon this seemingly oppressive act by these irresponsible people in power. However, there are a couple of opinions I would like to discuss with all.

1. Like it or not the education systems in this country is seemingly a child play to all. From Malay Language conversion in the 70s to 3M. It's getting sickening. Generations were ruined. Thousands of capable young enthusiast young generation was strainded by the requirement of C6 in BM. It more like a killing weapons than creating sense of patriotism. Unfortunately, like it or not this is the fact of life in this country and is unlikely to change for the next few generations. Why don't we play the game at their rules and WIN! e.g. there are numerous BM experts are not Malay. Leave alone other subjects which were deliberately and forcefully convert from English to Malay ... for about 2 decade which now reverted. The point is, we can feel frust. We also must know that we need to live here. Unless alternatives are available, please bear in mind that we live in this system. So bear with it and of course be triumph!!

2. I personally more concern with the fact that there are approx 25% drop out among chinese youth. I think we should spend more effort in improving this trend or we could revert to the age where the community work as coolies.

3. Opportunity of studies is desperately needed. Both tertiary and skill vocational education. There are some politician working on that but unfortunately with limited achievements.

Jo Lynn said...

Let me share my experience in my bid to secure a JPA scholarship.

In 2004 I was shortlisted to the final cut: the interview. Due to the escalating number of short-listed candidates (and also lack of time as well), JPA could not hold a one-by-one interview. Hence group interviews were done.

Prior to the interview, we were informed during the briefing that it'd be forum-like. But during the real interview, we're only allowed to speak if the interviewer permitted. So I can say that'd the first drawback as some of us really didn't get the opportunity to demonstrate our abilities in our language skills and general knowledge.

The second drawback was the fact that it was really really disheartening for me and other English-proficient speakers to observe that there were some candidates that actually cannot string a proper sentence in English (How the heck they got short-listed in the first place, plus with only 6 A's?). Don't ask me more about these candidates. You get the drift.

The only good thing about the interview was that we had the opportunity to prove our co-curriculum participation by handing in our transcripts to the JPA's reps to be reviewed during the interview.

Though I didn't get the scholarship in the end (though I may have commendable co-curricular achievements and hailed from an average income family), I was content with the experience (It shows many things you'll either treasure it or be amused with it).

No surprise. Children of doctors, business tycoons and Datuks got the scholarships. Shall I say that perhaps only the number of 1A's and/or race matters?

Anyway, currently JPA adapt the entrance exam style. The candidates nowadays must write an English essay during the interview. Will that help to clear the doubt? I don't know. What say you?

Anyhow I didn't get it so I chose Form 6. It's not the end of the world after all. At least I have another chance to prove myself. Hopefully someday my talents would be recognised.

Anonymous said...

Just a suggestion here after reading your "distressful" thoughts.
This thread could go on for AGES and never have an end even if the cows have came home and died.
Wirte a petition to JPA and get media coverage from The Star.
Then propose that PSD gives pre-university scholarships oversea or the undersea. Then make them earn scholarships for undergraduate programmes themselves through big corperations and universities instead of spoon-feeding them until they are graduates. The money then can be spreaded out more effeciently and you will be more suprise how many people can benefit from it. I strongly suggest that JPA also covers scholarship for STPM student because everytime I read about excellent STPM students not getting into local universites (due to quota), I wonder what would become of them for their effort and time they have pump in just to find out that they are working as a salesman/woman earning RM800+- a month and they got to feed a family. Are they to suffer somemore seeing the "friends" who did not score better but are in UM, UKM etc, etc... Just imagine that you are one of the left-outed student.
If you are wondering about matriculation students (mostly bumi students), read reports and you will see these "advanced students" are having an easier time getting into local universities. I'm taking SPM this year and my school counselor was "promoting" matriculation and said that is much more easier for bumi(s) to enter because of the quota set.

Anonymous said...

Has the SPM results improve in 2005?

Think about it?

945 candidates score all 1A in all subjects out of the total of about 430,000 candidates. i.e. 0.25%

About 35,000 candidates score all G9 in all subjects they took.

The rest of the candidates are with mixture of A1, A2,,, to F9.
(about 400,000 candidates)

Every subject has about 10% of it's total number of candiddte who score 1A except Chinese has about 2%.

Is our SPM result good.

Most of the student who do well with full 1A are hightlighted in the papers everyday... As if scoring 1A is so easy.

What about 35,000 candidites who get all F9 in all subject they take?. No one knows...Why the papers never hightlight them...



The public Fool

Anonymous said...

I work really hard for my spm and I wouldn't say it is easy. I think I deserved getting straight A for all the effort that I make.

Yes I only take 9 subject and when I went to matrix for approximately 12 days before being offered to go to the states. I realized that there are kids that got more A's than me that didn't get any scholarship.Mind you they are bumis.

Out of curiosity I asked my officer why she picked me. She simply said because you leave me an impression and those that did not then simply failed the interview.

So really it's not about getting A's but more on the interview.It's how well you performed in the interview.

They don't want all that A's or being active in the club if you don't reflect all that in the interview.