Read this article in the Star about a question directed to Nazri in parliament in regard to JPA scholarships. I'll reproduce it in full below since it has a lot of numbers in it. My comments follow.
68% of merit scholarships went to non-Bumiputra
LUMPUR: Nearly 68% or 280 of the Public Service Department (PSD)
scholarships under the 20% merit-category were awarded to
non-bumiputras, said Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk
Seri Nazri Aziz.
He said only about 32% or 135 scholarships were
awarded to bumiputra in the latest round of applications for the PSD's
overseas degree programme.
"This proves that the award was not
based on skin color, that the Government is fair in the selection of the
20% without looking at race, culture or religion but based on academic
excellence," he told Lim Kit Siang (DAP - Ipoh Timur) in Parliament
He also said that PSD scholarships looked at academic
excellence based on nine subjects chosen by the student relevant to the
degree of their choice.
"This limit was set to ensure all
students were on an equal playing field because not all schools had the
same facilities and teaching manpower," he said in reply to Tan Ah Eng
(BN - Gelang Patah).
At the Parliament lobby, Nazri said: “We do
not do things without referring to the Federal Constitution, which means
that we cannot give all for merit,” he said.
Out of 2,100 PSD
scholarships for students to study abroad this year, 20%, which is 417,
was reserved for those with merit, regardless of race and religion, he
Of the 417, almost 68% were given to non-bumiputras based on merit and only 32% for bumiputras, he said.
complaints by those with 13As and 14As and did not get scholarships, he
said he could not give them because it was not fair since some schools
did not allow students to take more than 10 subjects.
That was why the Government wanted to base it on 10 subjects only, he said.
Inside the dewan, Nazri said for year 2009, PSD offered 1,176 scholarships to Bumiputras and 924 to non-Bumiputras.
also said that more than RM2.8bil in Public Service Department (PSD)
sponsorships for overseas degree courses were given out between 2000 and
The sum was given to 12,485 recipients where 9,160 were bumiputera and 3,325 were non-bumiputera.
The breakdown of table showed that allocation for scholarships increased from RM109mil in year 2000 to RM659mil last year.
the number of students also increased from 748 in year 2000 to 2,000
last year, while 598 Bumiputra students getting scholarships in 2000 and
increased to 1,100 last year.
For non-Bumiputra, number of students in year 2000 was 150 and had increased to 900 last year.
From Jan 14, 2009, the awarding criteria of the Overseas Degree Programme was divided into four categories, he said.
first was based on academic excellence without counting race and
socio-economic backgrounds where selection was based on academic results
(85%), co-curriculum (10%) and interviews (5%).
The category was
based on current racial population ratios where one race's allocation
would be divided to others if it was not used.
"Selection is also made based on academic excellence with at least A2 in all core and elective subjects.
the same time, the candidates were also selected based on their
secondary school co-curriculum participation, families' socio-economic
backgrounds and interviews," he said.
The third category, he said, were for Sabah (5%) and Sarawakian (5%) bumiputra.
last category was given to socially disadvantaged students from rural
areas with limited facilities and from low-income families.
added that applicants in categories three and four also had to have at
least A2s in all subjects relevant to their degree of choice, which made
up 65% of the selection criteria.
He said students under the
programme were sent for first degrees in the US, UK, Ireland, Canada,
Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, Russie, Germany, France,
Czech Republic, Poland, Egypt, Jordan, India and Indonesia.
Some general comments:
to Nazri, 1176 out of 2100 overseas JPA scholarships were given to
Bumiputra students while the rest went to non-bumi students. This is
very close to the 55 / 45 ethnic quota which the government promised in June 2008.
The composition of these scholarships is as follows:
60% allocated based on 'excellence' as well as the racial composition of the country.
20% allocated purely on merit without considering any ethnic quotas.
10% allocated to students from Sabah and Sarawak (which is not the 20% promised earlier)
10% allocated to students from disadvantaged backgrounds (no ethnic quota specified).
280 non-bumi students were allocated the JPA scholarship from the
purely merit based portion, this would mean that a balance of 644
non-bumi students were given the JPA scholarship from the other two
allocations i.e. the 60% allocation based on 'excellence' and racial
composition of the country and the 10% allocation based on the
background of a student.
Questions of ethnic quotas aside, this
kind of reply from Nazri doesn't really give me any more confidence in
the way in which these JPA scholarship recipients are chosen. For
example, how is the pool of 20% purely merit based students selected?
How are they different from the group of 'excellent' students from which
the 60% allocation is given? How is a 'disadvantaged' background
Unless there is more transparency in regard to the
criteria for giving out these scholarships, beyond the superficial
information of 60%, 20%, 10%, 10% allocated to whom and what, the
questioning of the JPA scholarship allocation will continue to rage on