Malaysian example is worth following


Dec 02 - 15, 2002

It is heartening to note that Gen. Musharraf government, in deference to public demand, has initiated a student loan scheme under which interest free loans will be provided to all talented students belonging to poor families who could not persue their education because of financial difficulties.

A key element of the new education policy announced by the government last year was its emphasis to persue the cause of higher education in partnership with Private Sector. Among other things it has raised the cost of education making it unaffordable for the poor parents.

The report of the Task Force has rightly pointed the deplorable fall in the quality and standard of education in the institutions of higher learning in the public sector and identified some of its causes as well. Surprisingly however, it has not touched upon one of the most important problems of the education sector the rising cost of education and its commercialisation by the private sector institutions. The cost of education in any standard institute of higher learning has gone almost beyond the reach of lower middle and even the middle class families living in their honest income. These are the segment of the society from where the talent normally emerges. This precious potential for future national requirement is being wasted by our sheer neglect. The government institutions lack the proper facilities whereby our talented youth can be polished and prepared. On the other hand the expenses in the quality education centers in the private sector are prohibitive for this class of students.

Consequently demands came from all concerned quarters that government should solve this problem as has been solved in other countries by providing interest free loans to all deserving students who wanted to continue their education at higher level but could not do so because their parents were unable to pay the high cost of education. The national press came out with full support for the public demand.

Commenting on the situation, the PAGE in its issue of Aug. 26, said "the only way out, under the circumstances seems to be liberal grant of interest free education loans to the needy students which may be paid back by them in easy installments when they are employed after completing their education. The loan should be available to only those needy students, who fully qualify the admission test by the government approved educational institutions in the private sector and is so recommended by them. The amount of loan should be based on the need of the student and if necessary, it should be adequate enough to cover, besides tuitions fee and etc., the living expenses in the hostel".

This is a practice which is being followed since decades in the civilized world and has contributed tremendously to expand the higher education. Malaysian example is worth following. Students apply for admission to universities and other institutions. They are selected to pursue the courses of their choice. On the basis of this selection they apply to government treasury for education loan. The loan for the whole duration is approved in a very short period so that the students', time is not wasted and they join the courses on time.

The loan amount is not given to the student but is directly deposited in the institution's account every month.

The student in turn enters into a contract or signs a bond that he will pay back the amount in so many years after completing the education. There is also a provision for insurance in case the student meets with an accident. The insurance money is included in the approved loan. If a student stops attending a course the remittance of the fees is stopped and the institutions cancels admission.

According to students loan scheme recently announced by the government all students who have obtained at least 70 per cent marks in their last University or Board Examinations and found it difficult to persue higher education (graduation Masters or Ph.D.) for want of financial reasons are eligible for such interest free loan which would be enough to meet their fee, books and even boarding expenses. The loan will be repayable after completion of their education and getting a job. The maximum age of loan applicant should not be more than 20 years (for graduation) 30 years for post graduation and 35 years for Ph.Ds studies. Only those students will be eligible for loans who get admission or are persuing their studies in an institute or university recognised by the government.