Edu fund for deserving youths urged

By: David Thien

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah’s unemployment rate of more than 5 per cent can be lessened with up-skilling education of the unemployed in workforce.

The Persatuan Institusi Pendidikan Tinggi Swasta Sabah (PIPTSS), supports Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Mohd Shafie Apdal for Sabah to reinforce its quality human capital with the focus on producing educated and talented workforce with good values.

PIPTSS President Datuk Seri Panglima Wong Khen Thau said he supports Shafie’s call “to ensure quality human capital to lead the future development of Sabah particularly in industrialisation.”

Wong said “Education is the catalyst to sustainable economic growth,” adding that PIPTSS aims to provide educational opportunities to deserving students in Sabah, especially student from poor rural districts or families.

“A developing state like Sabah needs such emphasis to educate and train our youths to become catalyst of transforming Sabah’s economy and industries.

“Investment in education is for the benefit of the state and for the benefit of the people of Sabah,” he stressed.

Wong is also the Honorary Life President of the Federation of Sabah Industries (FSI), besides being the Chairman of Malaysia International Chamber of commerce and Industry (MICCCI) Sabah Chapter.

“Without quality human resource capital, it will be difficult for Sabah’s industries, companies, employers and the state to compete and progress forward in an increasingly borderless global market with rising challenges,” he said.

PIPTSS to appealed to Shafie for support to establish an education fund bank for the sole purpose of helping deserving youths, particularly from the smaller towns and interior of Sabah.

Research shows the core challenge for youths from the rural interior and smaller towns of Sabah is the higher costs of living in Sabah’s capital city.

Many of their families lack the capacity to make ends meet, what more to support their children in continuing their higher education.

Many students are marginalised in Sabah. By this we mean that those who may have interest in continuing their education, but are hampered by financial constraint and do not pursue higher qualifications.

According to Wong, with an annual support fund allocation provided by the State government, needy students can apply for study fund such as transportation, accommodation, meals and a token living allowances with proof of eligibility of their total family income below RM3,000 with four or more siblings or dependents, with disability or ailment, evaluated and approved by a PIPTSS panel.

“PIPTSS will handle the administration and disbursement of the fund in a coordinated and transparent manner to serve the purpose of providing for the under-privileged and deserving students.

“PIPTSS wants to help our youths and give them the opportunity to study at higher institutions which eventually bring them out of poverty by transforming them into a skilled and knowledgeable work force and ultimately improve the economy of Sabah and Malaysia,” Wong said.

He p ointed out that PIPTSS members offer many training courses and academic programmes, which are directly relevant to the economy of Sabah.

The fields range from business to science, medical sciences, technology, hospitality, tourism and even to the emerging creative arts of studies such as music, arts and design.

He highlighted that data from the Ministry of Education Enrolment Statistics shows about 40,000 students sat for the SPM (32,000) and STPM (8,000) each year in Sabah, half of them did not proceed to pursue any kind of higher education.

“This is an alarming number and if this problem is not addressed, it will not only bring long term economic impact to the state but will also bring about social issues in the long run, if the state does not leverage on these youths and help them gain a role in our nation building process.

“This has a bearing on Sabah’s ability to elevate from the doldrums of being categorised as a poverty state, despite the richness of its resources.

“Sabah competitiveness will be degraded and impacting more reliance on foreign workers and talents. This will present a threat of unbalancing the social status of the people of Sabah.

“If PIPTSS does not take action with regards to the deterioration of our human capital, the progress of Sabah’s economy may be stalled in the very near future due to the lack of qualified personnel and talents, Wong elaborated.

Therefore, he said, PIPTSS seeks to address these issues by providing all youths in Sabah a deserved opportunity to seek higher education.

Funds are needed to provide three different type of assistance to deserving students:

l Full sponsorship that covers tuition fees, accommodation, transportation, meals and a token living allowance.

l Partial sponsorship that covers (a) tuition fees, and a token allowance, (b) accommodation, transportation, and a token living allowance, (c) a token living expenses to deserving students.

l Full loan that covers tuition fees, accommodation, transportation, meals and a token living allowance.

“The funds will be administered directly between the institution and PIPTSS, without being disbursed through the student to prevent any mismanagement or misuse of fund by the students, i.e. except for the living allowances token where it will be disbursed on a monthly basis.

He also revealed that the reduction of PTPTN loan has also contributed to a drop in student enrolments to study in institutions of higher education.

“The PTPTN loan has been cut by 25 per cent and consequently, the students are only getting 75 per cent of their need which is not sufficient to cover even their programme fee itself.

“The implication for students, especially those from outstation rural areas is severe considering their need for living expenses from transportation, accommodation, meals etc.

“It’s not surprising many financially challenged students dropped out of institutions of higher learning before graduation, with the burden of having to service their PTPTN loans.

“Since the government have been supporting the independent Chinese school, PIPTSS would also like the Sabah government to support local private educational institutions of higher learning (IPTS) and to develop Sabah as an education hub, just like Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Sarawak and Johor Bahru.

“With the education autonomy given to Sabah and Sarawak and the government’s initiative to increase the workforce’s minimum salary to RM1,100 towards RM1,500 eventually, PIPTSS would like to work and help the state government in fulfilling the arduous task of creating a huge pool of very productive human capital for economic growth.

“PIPTSS members have the capability and capacity to train and provide education to as many students as possible by encouraging students who have completed their SPM and STPM levels to study in local colleges and universities and thereafter, contribute to the economy of Sabah.

“The quality of education in Sabah is at par with those in Peninsular Malaysia and other parts of the world. It is noted that education in Sabah is one of the cheapest in Malaysia,” Datuk Wong Khen Thau stressed.

The Persatuan Institusi Pendidikan Tinggi Swasta Sabah, also known as PIPTSS, was registered in 2005.

Presently, there are 12 members altogether, namely:

1.     Kinabalu Commercial College (KCC), established 1968.

2.     AMC, The School of Business, established 1985.

3.     Sabah Institute of Arts (SIA), established 1990.

4.     Kolej Teknikal Yayasan Sabah (KTYS), established 1990.

5.     INTI College Sabah (INTI), established 1995.

6.     Asian Tourism International College (ATI College), established 1996.

7.     MSU College (PTPL College), established 1999.

8.     Institut Sinaran, established 2002.

9.     SIDMA College, established 2003.

10.  Almacrest International College, established 2004.

11.  North Borneo University College, established 2006.

PIPTSS is committed towards helping Sabah youths in overcoming their financial challenges, with the help of the Sabah government, so that our youths can be qualified as quality human capital assets who are able to strongly impact the economic landscape of Sabah and forge a better future for all in Malaysia

By: David Thien

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