Sunday, July 24, 2005

PSD To Review Scholarship Criteria

As reported in The Star on the 20th July, "[The Public Service Department (PSD)] hopes review will put an end to scholarship issues". PSD Director-General Datuk Ismail Adam was only recently appointed and it's good to hear him making a press statement giving priority to the Malaysian annual scholarship soap opera.

He said the department would be working with the Education Ministry to review and better manage the selection of students to ensure that the awarding of scholarships was done in a just and fair manner.

“Students applying for PSD scholarships should also realise that there are many professions to choose from and they should not just keep focusing on one or two professions, like medicine, for example. They have to understand our resources are limited and there is intense competition for scholarships,” he said.

... it is hopeful of making the students less unhappy with the ongoing review of its procedures and selection criteria.

Update: Read also good article in the Sun which asked for the disclosure of selection criteria for PSD scholarships.

When there are set principles based on merit, the selection becomes a routine exercise. But if other factors and unseen hands come into the picture, critics are likely to have a field day.
I'd strongly suggest that PSD obtain professional feedback from the public and the community in order to improve and make transparent all the relevant criteria and processes in the application and award of scholarships. In addition, PSD should also review the colleges and universities which they are sending our Malaysian students to - many of which are unfortunately, second and third rate. We should seek to improve our award standards by only awarding scholarships to candidates who have successfully applied to the world's top universities.

As much as we do not particularly enjoy "copying" from our neighbours, Singapore has done will in attracting and awarding the top students of the country (and region) to pursue their higher education in the top-top universities in the world. When I was at Oxford, I could count the number of Malaysians who pursued their education there with just about one hand every year. However, I would know of at least 20-30 candidates entering Oxford University from Singapore on a yearly basis - achieved pretty much with the support of the Singapore Public Service Commission (PSC) as well as it's government linked companies scholarship schemes. I am certain that Malaysian students do not fare worse than our counterparts across the causeway.

For more scholarship stories - read my posts here, here, here and here. :)


Anonymous said...

Fascinating blog you have here. Keep it up! Finally someone blogging about this particular topic.

Anonymous said...

It is an encouraging sign that the PSD DG will "review and better manage the selection of students" but he further qualifies it with " I am not saying that we are going to make an announcement..". In other words nobody knows what is being reviewed; whether for better or for worst.

Then, there was no mention on how to fine tune the parity between the STPM and matriculation results. This is the root of most dissatisfaction both in the awarding of university places and scholarships. The drama will continue until a solution like an INDEPENDENT entrance exam or compentency exam like SAT is administered.

Thirdly, the PSC and the Ministry of Education keep saying that resources were limited. If they could (A) make sure that admission is truly based on merit (B) tighten wastage of financial resources through unnecessary projects-I'm sure the Economic Planning Unit can spare a couple of billion a year, and (C) maximise human resources by employing and RETAINING good lecturers & professors, the local public university intake can be increased significantly. The savings from providing local university places compared to sending half baked students overseas can be tremendous-you can pay for 5-10 local students for every 1 you send overseas.

Alternatively, scrap the STPM and provide a matriculation course leading to a common entrance exam with a 50% weightage on coursework.

These are only some of the ideas that come to mind and I'm sure there are many with viable alternatives if the PSD and the MOE would care to listen, act on it and most importantly be transparent about the intake and awarding criterias and process. Or are the press statements just another drama in itself?

Anonymous said...

don't think you even need an 'independent' exam. all you need is a single exam for all.

don't agree with courseworks - they only give room to biased marking.

in all honesty, i think everybody knows what the ailment is. it's the medication that's a tad bitter to swallow.