EDUCATION is the most valuable asset in one's life. In my opinion, no cost is too high when it comes to education. After all, education leads to the birth of innovation and gives rise to a society that is intellectual and enlightened.
What exactly constitutes a "free education plan"?
Tuition fees are a given, of course, but what of the cost of living for the students?
Do we wish to offset this cost to the parents? Or will there be a provident fund set aside for students by the government? If so, would it be state or Federal Government? Many questions need to be answered, and a detailed analysis should be done.
In European countries, a monthly stipend is given to students in higher education institutions as part of their welfare plan. Is this possible in a developing country like Malaysia? And how much would such an allowance be?
It is disheartening to see so many Malaysian youth in debt soon after they graduate. Many fresh graduates are deep in debt, even before they are employed.
Private higher education institutions that have mushroomed all over the country are making the situation worse. With so many education providers and competition, education is being turned into a commodity. It is big business these days.
The government should come out with strict regulations to control the fees structure in private higher learning institutions. This can help to bring down the financial burden of graduates. A standardised fee structure based on course modules and for fees in private institutions should be introduced and controlled by the government.
For example, the course fees for an engineering programme varies between RM40,000 and RM80,000 in private institutions. A National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loan is given to cover the fees and their own expenses as well.
Roughly, when the fee is RM40,000, a student is eligible to get a loan up to RM70,000. Fresh engineering graduates in the private sector earn only RM2,200 to RM2,500. How are they going to settle their education loan when they also need to get a vehicle for themselves and a home a few years after they graduate?
Kauselya Muniandy, Ipoh, Perak Source: New Straits Times Letters to the Editors 21 August 2012