THE National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) is encouraging more state governments and businesses to give the National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN) to newborns, in order to encourage new parents to invest in their children’s future tertiary education.
Since 2010, only four state governments and a handful of private companies have stepped forward to give monetary contributions to the education savings plans of newly born babies.
The states, including Kedah, Perak, Terengganu and Melaka, have been giving out sums between RM20 and RM500 for every newborn, according to PTPTN (policy and operation) deputy chief executive Mastura Mohd Khalid.
“I call on more state governments and corporations to join in to encourage new parents to start early savings for their children’s future studies at higher learning institutions. It is also something achievable and a good investment for the benefit of the younger generation and nation-building, ” she told StarEdu in an interview.
The gift, she added, could also be implemented as part of the corporate social responsibility (CSR) initiative by the organisations.
Moreover, as children tend to learn by example, encouraging healthy saving habits among parents can also help inculcate financial literacy and planning skills in the next generation, especially if learnt during their formative years.
The SSPN could also be the best plan to avoid dependency on a loan for higher education, Mastura advised.
There are currently 10mil potential Malaysian depositors aged between a day to 19 years, meaning that parents are able to apply for the savings scheme on their behalf.
Reaching the grassroots
On this note, PTPTN recently conducted its Jelajah SSPN programme nationwide to promote the opening of new SSPN accounts, especially among the underprivileged in the remote areas.
She shared that it was not easy for PTPTN to create awareness on the scheme in Sabah and Sarawak due to the lack of communication facility including Internet access in certain areas.
The Jelajah SSPN programme registered 11,033 new accounts and deposits amounting to RM1,786,445 during the August to September period.
Mastura said, “As at Aug 31, this year, 315,976 new accounts and deposits amounting to RM530.5mil have been collected.
“We target to get 500,000 new account holders and deposits collection of RM1bil this year. We are positive of achieving our target.”
Moreover, response from underprivileged groups has been encouraging, as a large number were previously unaware of the available SSPN packages for their children’s education.
“We opened accounts worth RM100 each for their benefit during this period, ” she said, adding that more than RM800,000 was spent for the savings of new depositors as part of their CSR initiative.
The programme has proven worthwhile as it has been an ‘eye opener’ for many in the underprivileged communities to understand the importance of such savings for their children’s education and future, she pointed out.
Focusing on impactWhile results have been positive thus far, PTPTN will be further intensifying its efforts to get closer to their target audience and create more awareness on the advantages of early SSPN savings.
Mastura revealed that PTPTN is be organising two to three programmes in stages. This is in addition to continuing its participation in various activities at schools and shopping malls, as well as partnering other parties in carnivals to attract younger parents to opt for SSPN.
Earlier this month, it held a three-day Minggu Menabung SSPN 2019 at Aeon Mall in Shah Alam from Oct 4 to 6.
She said, “For instance, we meet the parents at the shopping malls during the weekends when they go out to buy groceries and watch movies and attract them to choose SSPN, ” she said.
PTPTN also organises various contests such as drawing, colouring and puzzle solving activities, mini musicals and talent competitions, alongside introducing special appearances from popular children’s cartoon characters such as Didi and Friends to attract children and convince more parents to be depositors and invest for the future.
“For instance, to participate in the puzzle solving activities, they have to save at least RM20 and they can do regular additional deposits later, ” she added.
Under the SSPN-i scheme, the depositor has to save a minimum of RM20, while SSPN-i Plus provides six savings packages ranging from RM30 to RM500 per month. In return, depositors enjoy benefits including tax relief, takaful protection.
In urging more people to save with SSPN, Mastura noted that they could win attractive cash prizes during the second series of two prize draws, namely Cabutan 15 Tahun SSPN-i and Cabutan Wow! SSPN-i Plus.
She explained, “We introduced these prize draws to be competitive and to be at par with other financial institutions in attracting new depositors.”
PTPTN has allocated RM1.1mil to reward 1,726 depositors in its prize draws. The second series, which is for savings deposited during the promotional period between September and October this year, will see five depositors winning RM15,151.15 each for the Cabutan 15 Tahun SSPN-i and 15 depositors winning RM3,000 each under the Cabutan Wow! SSPN-i Plus.
From 2004 until end-August 2019, PTPTN registered 4.2 mil SSPN accounts with RM5bil total deposits.