PETALING JAYA: Important education programmes such as artificial intelligence, computer engineering and big data should be heavily subsidised by the Government to help bring Malaysia closer to being a developed nation, says prominent educationist Prof Datuk Dr Paul Chan.
Dr Chan, who sits on the Malaysian National Higher Education Council, said subsidising such core educational disciplines could pave the way for Malaysia’s progress.
“Direct resources to these areas can make the country globally competitive,” he said yesterday.
Dr Chan, who is also HELP University vice-chancellor and president, called for public and private higher-learning institutions to work closely together to share resources to reduce costs.
He noted that abolishing the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan and providing free education are difficult tasks due to budget constraints the country is facing.
Yayasan Rapera founder and chairman Datuk Seri Jahaberdeen Mohamed Yunoos, however, went a step further and called for free tertiary education in all public universities, as well as the abolition of student loans such as PTPTN.
Describing the loans as “burdensome” to youth, the senior lawyer – who visited over 20 universities in the past four months – said he found many students with poor health and “in a depressed state” due to dire financial constraints.
Yayasan Rapera is a foundation which emphasises nurturing thinking and compassionate citizens.
Universiti Malaya Department of Psychological Medicine Assoc Prof Dr Muhammad Muhsin Ahmad Zahari, who supports free access to public higher learning institutions, said it should only be given to needy and deserving students.
“Free education reduces students’ financial burden and emotional stress, enabling them to focus on studies,” said the psychiatry expert who has treated many students suffering from depression caused by financial stress.
A fresh graduate who only wanted to be known as Jayanthi said she was worried about paying back her PTPTN loan even before completing medical school last year.
The medical graduate, who borrowed RM180,000, has to pay RM750 monthly to PTPTN for the next 20 years.
“This is a steep sum and we (graduates) cannot be relying on our parents to pay it,” said Jayanthi who is working part-time in Kuala Lumpur while waiting for housemanship placement.
Another PTPTN borrower, who declined to be named, said the local education he received was “money well spent”.
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