10 February, 2010

Readers Views On The PTPTN Issue Extracted from NST

Extracted from New Straits Times (2010/02/10)

PTPTN:Let merit be sole criterion

I WOULD like to join the debate on the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans.

I just started Form Five and I am concerned about the statement by Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Khaled Nordin that he was looking at ways to limit the loan amount, for example, by only covering tuition fees, and to give help only to those who "need" them.

Kedah Gerakan Youth chief Tan Keng Liang, in his letter published in the NST on Feb 2, asked the government to raise the allocation for PTPTN instead, and to ensure that everyone was given a chance to take PTPTN loans.

There was also a letter, published on the same day, by M.P. Babu of Johor, who said that PTPTN loans should only be given to those who need them.

I agree with Tan and disagree with Babu. How can the government know who needs loans and who doesn't? Why must a student's need be decided by his family's financial status?

The government should not discriminate against students based on their parent's financial status. I agree with Tan's remarks: "There could be instances where 'well-to-do' parents refuse to finance their children's education as they may not see this as a priority.

"There could also be situations where well-to-do parents have many children and it is beyond their means to finance every single child.

"It would be unfortunate if those students with merit are deprived of the opportunity to pursue higher education due to the poor definition of well-to-do parents."

Another reader, in a letter published on Feb 3, said it was the business of banks to give education loans and that the government should not compete with banks.

I don't mind if banks give loans similar to those given by PTPTN but I have not heard of such a bank loan. I hear that some parents borrow from moneylenders to send their children for further studies.

My family is in the middle- income bracket. I have five brothers and sisters and had planned on taking a PTPTN loan to continue my studies at Kolej Tunku Abdul Rahman and proceed to Universiti Tun-ku Abdul Rahman.

I don't think my parents can afford to pay for my university education, even though they earn RM6,000 plus per month. They have to pay the mortgage, car-loan instalments and other things.

I hope the government will allow students to take PTPTN loans without any difficulty and not discriminate on family background or financial situation.


Equal access

I DISAGREE with Marisa Demori's views on the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans ("It's the business of banks, not govt" -- NST, Feb 3).

Education is not merely about acquiring technical skills; it is also about self-improvement, knowing how to apply the knowledge gained and being able to innovate using that knowledge.

PTPTN serves a vital role in providing equal access to education for everyone. By giving loans to those who have got a place in our universities, the fund allows students from lower-income backgrounds to not only improve their lot, but to expose themselves to intellectual debate and stimulation of their peers.

As a final-year university student, I can state that in my two years of university education, I have gained so much more than my textbooks ever taught me.

It has allowed me to mature in an environment that encourages thinking and criticising, instead of merely believing what is put in front of me. The exposure to different viewpoints, each with its own merits, and the guidance of my professors have given me an experience that has changed me, and will continue to change me for the better.

Has Marisa thought of the consequences of the private sector taking up the responsibility of funding the education of our students?

The more stringent requirements and higher burden required to take a loan would discourage many from pursuing their dreams, resulting in an educated generation consisting only of those from more privileged backgrounds. This would result in a huge imbalance in society.

A government's role is wide-ranging and it has to take the long-term and short-term consequences into account. Where would we be in 50 years if we do not educate the present generation?

Admittedly, experience is something that contributes invaluably to work performance, but experience guided by knowledge is so much more useful. Instead of blindly performing the task at hand, having a proper academic background would lead to questions such as, "Why am I doing this?" and "How can I do it better?", and this is where the roots of progress lie.

Management expert Peter Drucker once said: "A knowledge worker is non-manual, what you have to go to school to learn; what you can't learn by an apprenticeship."

He recognised the importance of education, our forefathers recognised the importance of education and now we must act on our recognition of the importance of education.

The problem faced by PTPTN is not so much a lack of funds as the slow repayment of loans. PTPTN should liaise with the Internal Revenue Board and the Employees Provident Fund to ensure that those who can pay up loans do so when they start working.

It should consider converting loans into scholarships should students enter government service.

The corporation should solve the problems that plague the implementation of its service and punish those who exploit it.

Let education be a dream to aspire to, not a privilege.

CHAN YI JIEN, Subang Jaya

Poor planning

THE National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) needs to be commended for extending financial aid to students pursuing tertiary education. Taxpayers' money is well used, as thousands of students benefit from this scheme.

The PTPTN loan is confined to students who secure entry to local colleges and universities. It is given to any student who applies for one.

It is time the corporation extends the loans to students who study in overseas universities. It is simple logic that studying abroad is more expensive.

Why then this discrimination, when our country aspires to become a developed nation? Why does the corporation fail to understand the financial burden shouldered by parents who send their children to study at foreign universities?

Aren't these parents also paying tax? What is the rationale for denying loans to these students?

I hope the government will consider giving PTPTN loans to students studying abroad.

Now, we hear even more bad news: the government plans to give loans only to those who "need" them. The reason, the corporation says, is a shortage of funds.

How could there be a shortage of funds if there had been proper financial planning and projection?