Plans afoot to send students to Stanford

Abang Johari (front, eighth left) joins the award recipients in a group photo. Also seen on the front row (from fourth left) are Dr Azhar, Len Talif, Talib, Azmi, Asfia, Dr Sim and Abu Bakar. — Photo by Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The Sarawak government is currently in discussion with Stanford University to allow Sarawakian students pursue higher education at the renowned US institution, says Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

According to him, the London School of Economics and the Cambridge University in the UK have agreed, in principle, to set aside two places each for students from Sarawak every year – provided that the students fulfil the entry criteria.

“I suggest that these places are distributed equally among Bumiputera and non-Bumiputera students in the state, and preference should be given to (those planning to) take economic and international finance courses,” said Abang Johari at the ‘27th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Special Awards’ ceremony at the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) Complex here on Friday night.

He said it was crucial for young Sarawakians to acquire quality education and the latest technological know-how in this digital era, towards propelling the state forward.

Additionally, the Chief Minister said in line with the vision of producing quality workforce set to drive state’s economy and development, Sarawak government would set up five international schools – one each in Kuching, Samarahan, Sibu, Bintulu and Miri – that would incorporate the Cambridge International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) syllabus.

“With the fees borne by the state government, I hope that these privately-run international schools would provide the opportunity to those from poor households to receive world-class education.”

Abang Johari also thanked Yayasan Sarawak and the Education Department Sarawak for complementing the state government’s policies on uplifting the standards of academic performance in the state.

“Yayasan Sarawak will continue to provide scholarships and financial aid to qualified candidates, assisting them to continue their studies in institutions of higher learning.”

Other initiatives by the Sarawak government to assist Sarawak students included the allocation of RM30 million to help students facing difficulties in repaying or obtaining the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTPN) loans; and also free school bus service in Kuching slated for next year.

Meanwhile, Yayasan Sarawak director Azmi Bujang said for the year to date, the organisation had approved 2,904 scholarship-loan applications, which translated into an approval rate of 95.46 per cent.

In monetary terms, he said Yayasan Sarawak had approved RM57.8 million worth of scholarships-loans set to be paid-out in four years, depending on the duration of students’ courses at their respective universities or technical training institutions.

For the approval rate of the prestigious full scholarships provided by Yayasan Sarawak – namely the Tun Taib Scholarship and the Tunku Abdul Rahman (TAR) scholarships – Azmi said it was only at seven per cent and 12 per cent, respectively, due to the high standards in the criteria for eligibility.

“Past recipients of these scholarships include members of the administration, senior government officers, corporate leaders, university professors, medical specialists, industry professionals, diplomats, research scientists and many more,” said Azmi.

Meanwhile, the winners of the 27th Sarawak Chief Minister’s Special Awards 2019 are SM Sains Kuching Utara in the ‘Controlled Secondary School’ category; SMK St Anthony of Sarikei in ‘Normal Secondary School’ category; SK Kuala Penganan of Limbang (Primary School with Students Population of 150 and Below); SK Limbang (Primary School with Students Population of 150 and Above); Dr Norisah Suhaili of SM Sains Kuching Utara (Secondary School Principal); Jaul Bunyau of SK Ulu Lubai (Primary School Headmaster); Leong Siew Choon of SMK Tinggi Sarikei, Tan Lee Nguang of SJKC Chung Hua No2 in Kuching and Khairuddin Che Ali of SK Telahak in Limbang (Teachers); Johnson Pau Jion Seng of SMK Bintulu, Syarifah Ameerah Nurnajmi Wan Mohamad Yusop of SMK Agama Tun Ahmad Zaidi, Danish Zaffry Rosli of SMK Luak in Miri and Jenny James of SMK Mendamit in Limbang, for ‘Academic Performance-Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM)’ category; Jeremy Sia Yik Xian of SMK Sacred Heart in Sibu, Hanapie Ramli of SMK Saribas in Betong and Norazian Hussen of SMK Chung Hua in Sibu, for ‘Academic Performance-Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM)’ category; Julian Simon Peter of Limbang District Education Office in the ‘State Education Department’ category; and also SMK St Anthony of Sarikei and SK Pujut Corner in Miri in the ‘Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)’ category for secondary school and primary school, respectively.

Among those in attendance were Minister of Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, Minister in Chief Minister’s Office (Integrity and Ombudsman) Datuk Talib Zulpilip, Assistant Minister of Urban Development and Resources Datu Len Talif Salleh, DUN Speaker Datuk Amar Mohd Asfia Awang Nassar, Deputy State Secretary Datu Abu Bakar Marzuki and Sarawak Education director Dr Azhar Ahmad.

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