Monday, February 27, 2017

Of high scoring students...and loans

Malaysia is currently hosting the King of Saudi Arabia. At first, I was ecstatic as the "Custodian of 2 holy masjids" choose Malaysia as one of his destination. It was short-lived when the Saudi Arabia king decided to visit Indonesia for full 9 days with an entourage almost triple than those coming to Malaysia.

Who cares if the 1MDB donation issue resurfaced during this visit. You can try to sweep everything under the carpet or stuffed it in the already overcrowded closet. Someone can even gloat that Saudi Arabia has a similar scheme in their country.

All these are secondary, compared to the anticipated SPM/STPM results scheduled to be announced on 16th March 2017. Who gives a hoot why the delay. Who cares if the machine breaks if it never happens in Malaysia. Pak lah used to say that we are a 1st world in terms of facilities but third world in terms of maintenance.

This time around, let's ponder on our homegrown talents. They deserve the best but do they get the best treatment?

Sometimes I honestly feel that SPM and STPM has lost its glitters. Years ago, this used to be the passport for well-performed students to look forward for scholarships to further their studies overseas. Years later, these students will return to Malaysia, filling in important posts and expected to rise through the ranks to head departments and ministries.

Now, I see the dark side of scholarships. Yes, the A-grade students still gets the scholarships and possible there are also some backdoor entrance to scholarships. If these A grade students are suppose to be the cream of Malaysian education, then I think aloud of their endurance to go through A grade universites overseas acting as our little ambassadors.

At the same time, those who could not achieve the same level as these A grade students go through various programs like matriculation, A levels etc to go through Malaysian public and private institutions.

4 years down the line, both these groups of students will be available in the job market. My observation - at this point of time, there is no clear advantage whether you are a government scholar or not. To the employer, they don't care whether u are an overseas grad from top 50 colleges or you are a local grad from run the mill private institutions.

Imagine that, when scholarship students bade temporary farewell to their families for a chance to be enrolled in a prestigious college, burn the midnight oil to maintain the grades and yet you have an equal chance of employment with those who choose the comfort of enrolling into private institutions in Malaysia. So, where is the "priviledge" of being top students?

Further, when Malaysia is facing financial crunch, sometimes the government decided to convert scholarships into loans. By the time, these students graduate, they are immediately burdened with RM 500,000 to RM 1 million loan depending on the courses and the location of their varsities.

Are we rewarding our top students with "automatic" loans which they have to burden upon their graduation? Are we sidelining our top students and open a "free for all" competition for jobs vacancies?

Just the other day, I heard of an Engineer graduate from Australia receiving a RM 500,000 loan reminder after graduating barely months ago. The same when I heard of a pasar malam lady complaining that her son is facing slight financial adjustments to his medical college because the money is coming a bit late.

Malaysia looks forward to burst into the 21st century propelling the country into a developed nation. Through the years, Malaysia has a steady growth of Engineers, Doctors, Accountants, Quantity Surveyors and whole loads of professionals. However, the construction industry is being taken over by the Hyundais, Samsungs, BUCG, CCCD and acronyms indicating it is not Malaysian company. Are we losing our edge? Are we sidelining our top students? Are we putting aside our own home-breed professionals?

Everybody has a role to play in building up Malaysia. We could no longer leave the task to politicians as they only know one thing - how to enrich themselves at the expense of others.

Let me give you a working example. If 2 CEOs (or Chairmans) of GLCs meet to discuss projects, they are first binded by their political affiliation. Just check how many GLCs are headed by apolitical persons. Then, whatever decision for their respective GLCs are conveniently reach during political workshops. In the end, whatever decision made is not for the best of the GLC but more on "I scratch your back and you scratch mine".

Back to our high-performance students - where are we actually heading? Are we actually rewarding our high-performnace students are is the government condemning them to an all-expense loan trip to further their education? I see it more of sending them on an educational nightmare with huge price tags. A person who goes for local institutions paid a fraction of the amount loaned to high performance students. At the end, a high performance student is saddled with RM 500,000 to RM 1M loan, a burden they automatically carry upon their graduation.

If we go down the system, you can always find a whole batch of blue-collared workers getting more pay than these high performance students. Reasons? Our politicians have foul-up our system to an extend of over-rewarding some as long as these politicians can command their votes at the expense of high performance students.

By the way, I guess only in Malaysia you can find cases where a person is appointed to head a department when the appointee has no heads or tails what the job scope is. Worse, the appointee may not even qualified to head the department.

And yeah, is it possible that someone out there just don't want smart kids to run the country? I mean... just look at how 1MPM6 approach the petrol hike issue today. He boasted that Saudi Arabia hike up 50 % of their petrol and we Malaysians complain like mad when our petrol increase by 20 sen or 10 %. Dear 1MPM6, 50 % of petrol hike in Saudi Arabia ended up for Saudis paying RM 1.07 per litre whilst we are bleeding at RM 2.30 per litre.

Does that explain why we have a 3 pointer like Ahmad Maslan in the cabinet? I guess the University where Ahmad Maslan graduated cringes everytime this Minister makes a comment. Of course, he has a few buddy buddy keeping him company like ...

Till then...G'nite M'sia...wherever u are...

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