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Friday, March 30, 2012

Students to take to the streets against PTPTN



The student group Solidariti Mahasiswa Malaysia (SMM) will hold a rally on April 14 to demand the immediate abolition of the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans, a scheme that is said to be a burden to university undergraduates.

Speaking at a press conference in Kuala Lumpur today, SMM chairperson Mohd Safwan Anang said they target to attract 5,000 students and youths to attend the rally, to be held at Dataran Merdeka in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

“We want the government to abolish PTPTN immediately, failing which the students will vote en masse for somebody else who can do it,” he said.
Mohd Safwan was upset with the recent statement of Higher Education Minister Khaled Nordin, who said such abolition is not viable as it burdens the government and curtails students’ competitiveness.

“Our country’s tax revenues were RM169 billion last year. Under this year’s Budget, RM50.1 billion was allocated for the education sector, but only RM12.1 billion was designated for public universities.

“On the other hand, we see the total amount of loans approved by PTPTN was only RM6.1 billion, so in what sense can the government say they can’t afford to scrap it?” he said.

Malaysia Reformist Student Club (Karisma) secretary-general Mohd Hafizuddin Abdul Mukti noted that Sri Lanka and Mauritius have adopted a free education policy, alongside European countries such as Norway, Sweden and Scotland.

“Malaysia, as a country with rich natural resources such as petroleum and timber, has no excuse in not granting free education.  

“Furthermore, Mauritius has started providing free transportation to its university students since 2005,” he said.
'An indebted generation'

The group argued that the PTPTN scheme produces an indebted generation where students are compelled to bear the heavy loan repayments of up to RM50,000 or more upon their graduation.

It is not helped by the fact that a fresh graduate only gets a salary of RM2,000 a month, which they claimed is insufficient for the scheme’s installments, expenditures for himself or herself and contributions to parents.

“Education should be the responsibility of government, not a tool for capitalists to make money,” Mohd Safwan said.

The group also called on the government to remove the names of some 132,000 people who were blacklisted by PTPTN so that the individual’s freedom of movement would not be curtailed.

The rally is supported by the Malaysia Free Education Movement, Malaysian Islamic Students National Association and Parti Sosialis Malaysia.

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