Thursday, September 12, 2013

No takers or not good enough?

by Churchill Edward,
Posted on September 12, 2013, Thursday

Tan Sri Dr James Masing
Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun

Minister’s revelation of state’s failure to fill up annual scholarship quotas alarms his party president

KUCHING: Out of 1,000 scholarships for local universities allocated to Sabah and Sarawak in 2008, only 499 students from the two states were successful in their applications leaving the remaining 501 places to be taken up by students from Peninsular Malaysia.

This was revealed by Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) deputy president Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun when he announced the setting up of a Bumiputera Technical Committee for Sabah and Sarawak (BTCSS) by Barisan Nasional (BN) at a prèss conference held at the party headquarters at Jalan Pending here yesterday.

“Then in 2009, there were only 402 from Sabah and Sarawak and this means 500 plus places were not filled up again. It was same in 2010, 2011 and 2012,” he revealed.

He added that the situation was equally depressing for scholarships for overseas universities as in 2008 only110 students were awarded the scholarships out of the 200 slots reserved for the two states.

“Then in 2009, it was okay; in 2010, it was not too bad, in 2011 the number of recipients dropped. But the most glaring part is that, in the case of Sawarak we could not fill our quota in 2008 and 2011 for overseas scholarships,” he stressed.

Entulu who is a Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department also disclosed that Sarawak could not fill the annual quota for special programmes meant for top performers to take up engineering courses in France, Germany, South Korea and Japan.

In 2012 although 29 of the 30 places given to Sarawak were filled up, Entulu was disturbed that the slots were mostly taken up by students from urban schools.

“The rural schools faired very badly. And we want to know if they have been left out for whatever reason or have not performed up to expectation,” he said.

The minister believed that special consideration should be given to rural students in the selection of candidates for these courses.

“If they under-performed, we will be looking at whether they could be allowed to participate as long as they are strong in basic subjects like science or physics. I do not think they should be given the same standard of criteria as that of urban students,” he added.

Touching on BTCSS Entulu said its role was to ensure that the distribution of scholarships was fair across the board regionally and among the communities.

Entulu’s disclosure of the failure of students from Sarawak and Sabah to fill up the quota of scholarships allocated for the states alarmed PRS president Tan Sri Dr James Masing.

Speaking after Entulu at the same press conference , Masing did not blame any party for the students’ missed opportunities as he believed it could be due to their ignorance of the availability of the scholarships.

“I tend to believe that because of their ignorance they do not know that these scholarships are available. I want the press to highlight that there are vacancies for scholarships to study locally or in a foreign countries.”

Masing also revealed that his party had set up the PRS Education Bureau and he urged qualified students to get in touch with the bureau to seek help in applying for the scholarships.

“It is a pity that we are losing out on these opportunities. I believe this has nothing to do with anything but ignorance on our part. There is money. Other people used it as we did not,” he said.

The PRS Education Bureau is handled jointly by the leader of the party’s youth organisation ‘PRS 30’ Lydia Dundun, PRS Youth Chief Liwan Lagang who is the Belaga assemblyman and Hulu Rajang MP Wilson Ugak Kumbong.

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