Dayak students not making the grade
By Churchill Edward
KUCHING: Dayak students, especially those from rural areas, have not achieved the top results required in their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) to obtain Public Service Department (JPA) scholarships to further their studies.
Sarawak Dayak Graduates Association (SDGA) president Dr Dusit Jaul told The Borneo Post yesterday that Dayak students were not getting 9As for SPM, failing to fulfil JPA’s stringent criteria.
Dusit said the Dayak community needed to be aware of this so that they would place greater emphasis on higher education for their children.
He was responding to Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Joseph Entulu Belaun’s recent disclosure that quotas for scholarships meant for students in Sabah and Sarawak were not fully filled, resulting in students from Peninsular Malaysia getting those places over the past few years.
“In order for the various scholarship quotas to be filled up fully and also for Dayak students not to miss the boat yearly, the federal government should adopt some flexibility in their selection process as a temporary measure and also short-term solution. For the long-term solution, the Dayak community, including its leaders, must sit down and think of ways to improve education in rural areas.”
He also called on Dayak-based political parties and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to focus on a solution for the failure of Dayak students to obtain 9As in SPM.
“Now is the time for us Dayaks to propel education as our number one agenda. Let education be our uniting factor. We should not blame others but ourselves first,” he said.
Dusit pointed out that when he interviewed top students in 2009, he was saddened to find that only 11 out of 182 qualifying applicants for JPA scholarships were Dayak.
Meanwhile, Parent-Teacher Association Sarawak chairman Wan Zain Syed Mohdzar said the government should do more to reach out to local students.
“The main objective is really to help poor students. There should be no excuse for JPA to overlook them.
“Do not wait for applications but go down to the ground to look for them and fill up the quotas,” he said.
“In actual fact, there are cases where students whose results were below requirement did extremely well at private tertiary institutions.
“Some of them used PTPTN (National Higher Education Fund Corporation) loans to finance their courses while others were financed by their families.”
According to him, Bumiputera students were generally slow learners in the beginning but would excel when they enter institutions of higher learning.
On Sept 11, Entulu had said out of 1,000 scholarships for Sabahan and Sarawakian students to further their studies locally, only around 50 per cent were taken up in recent years.
He also highlighted that for scholarships for overseas universities in 2008, only 110 were awarded out of the 200 slots reserved for the two states.
Entulu pointed out that Sarawak also failed to fill the annual quota for special programmes meant for top performers to take up engineering courses in France, Germany, South Korea and Japan.