A PROPOSED overhaul in the way tertiary education is funded in our country has added to the number of causes being combined with Bersih 3.0 due tomorrow.
The suggestion is that the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN), which provides loans to students pursuing their higher education, should be replaced by a fully subsidised system in which (most/all) students receive fully government-funded tertiary education.
PTPTN abolitionists charge that it is administratively inefficient and unfair to leave graduates with a mountain of debt, costly to the taxpayer because of low repayment rates (and subsequent costs of having to forcibly recover dues), and un-Islamic due to the charging of interest.
Though I was not a beneficiary of PTPTN, I routinely meet young people who are, through the education sub-committee of Yayasan Munarah, the royal foundation funded solely by private and corporate donations.
Since the start of our education fund last year, we have screened over a thousand applications for financial aid and I have personally interviewed hundreds of them at our office in Seremban.
Of the nearly RM500,000 disbursed so far, most cases involve the “topping up” of the amount students had already received from PTPTN, Mara and private sources.
In these 15-minute interviews, no student has ever complained about PTPTN; rather, the hardworking students often show gratitude to the fund, providing a contrast to the attitude of the Dataran Merdeka protesters.
What has impressed me in the denunciation of replacing a voluntary loan system with a compulsory subsidised system is that many commentators in the mainstream and alternative media object to the loss of individual responsibility that this will entail; young citizens will no...