KUALA LUMPUR - The automatically-granted pre-university bursaries for students scoring 9A+ and above in Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) has been lauded by educationist, parents and political parties.
Chinese education group Dong Zong (United Chinese School Committees' Association of Malaysia) deputy chairman Chow Siew Hon said the government had taken a "very encouraging" move in providing equal education opportunity to the students.
"Not only will it solve problems of bright students not getting scholarships, the bursary is also a wise move to retain young talent in the country," he told the New Straits Times yesterday.
Education Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said on Tuesday that the government had set aside RM2.12 billion for 1,609 students who scored 9A+ and above in last year's SPM, to study at both local and foreign universities.
The students will automatically receive bursaries from the ministry to pursue pre-university studies, regardless of race, religion and family background.
Chow said the government should also be considering extending the bursaries to students who took Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia, Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia and the Unified Examination Certificate.
As the bursary was meant for top-scoring students regardless of their backgrounds, Chow said the government might want to "advise" students from wealthy families to give up the scholarship.
"Since scholarships are meant to assist students who have financial difficulties in furthering their studies, probably the government may want to advise those from wealthy families to give up their bursaries.
"However, the government should not restrict rich students from receiving the bursary as this is supposed to be a fair and equal opportunity for everyone," he added.
He said Dong Zong hoped the move would be turned into a long-term national policy.
"We hope the move is not a political gimmick for the election.
"We want the government to make this a national policy that will benefit students in the future, too."