Sunday, May 24, 2009

Scholarships : Send the cream to local universities

Look out for students who are all rounder

The debate and controversy on the awarding of scholarships to top scorers in the Sijil Persekolahan Malaysia(SPM) examination continues in our mainstream media. The latest move is the plans by the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to limit the number of SPM subjects to be taken by a student. According to Muhyiddin imposing this limit will lead to a fairer Public Service Department (PSD) scholarship selection.

However limiting the number of subjects to be taken is not the main grouse of the the people but the manner in which theses scholarships are awarded. Collecting as many A’s as possible is not wrong but to base the awarding of scholarships merely on the number of A’s is definitely not the right way.

The number of A’s in core subjects may be important but it is equally important to consider the student as a whole, his extracurricular activities, financial affordability, aptitude and his continual performance in school. This last criterion is best assessed by the student’s teachers and headmasters during his eleven years in school and it is important to identify those who will serve the nation and the people.

In the past tremendous emphasis used to be placed on testimonials from teachers with regards to character, attitude, aptitude, behavior and achievements of students. Students with excellent testimonials are given greater priority for scholarships and other awards. Students then strived 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 and they have very limited value particularly for top scores. 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 a all rounder, being well equipped to handle the many problems they may encounter with maturity and wisdom.

Can our schools today be depended to provide the all important testimonials for our students? Many of our class teachers today don’t even know their students well enough to provide such a testimonial. Unfortunately we do not have many conscientious teachers around anymore to provide a fair, balanced and unbiased assessment of their students.

The competition for scholarships especially for education overseas has become so intense that our children today have to compromise on many useful and healthy activities like sports, debate and other extra-curricular events for their wholesome development. After so many years of independence it is difficult to understand why we have to send our students overseas for pre-university and basic degrees which cost many times more than when done locally. Aren’t our own local universities good and capable enough to provide the basic undergraduate training for our top students?

It is time to seriously think of sending the cream of our students to our local universities. By doing so not only we will be saving millions of ringgit but and at the same time help to boost the standards in the universities which is on the decline by international ratings. The money saved can be used to sponsor more eligible students. Isn’t time to have our own Oxford, Harvard, and Cambridge Universities that could the pride of every Malaysian? How can we achieve this when we continue to send our best to foreign universities?

It is time for our new Education Minister 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. 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.

Dr.Chris Anthony

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yes, You are right.

Two decade ago, Malaysia did not have enough colleges and universities to educate our young adults.

We have many universities which are affiliated with prestigious foreign universities and when the foreigners are welcome to study here, what is wrong for our own citizens to study HERE, if their field of study is available here.


By lakshmiregu, 26-May-2009

Anonymous said...

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I don't mean this in a bad way, of course! Ethical concerns aside... I just hope that as technology further innovates, the possibility of copying our memories onto a digital medium becomes a true reality. It's one of the things I really wish I could see in my lifetime.


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