The National Higher Education Fund (PTPTN) is a manifestation of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s intention to provide opportunities to the underprivileged to gain access to higher education, said Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.
He said PTPTN was set up 20 years ago when Najib was Education Minister then to democratise education so that the less fortunate too had to chance to climb up the social ladder.
"Malaysia is the only country that provides such an education fund for its people. It came about due to the sincerity of the prime minister and his wish is being translated year to year with the fund making such a strong presence,” he said at PTPTN’s 20th anniversary celeberation in Kuala Lumpur today.
Also present were Higher Education Minister Idris Jusoh and PTPTN chairperson Shamsul Anuar Nasarah (photo).
Ahmad Zahid said the success of PTPTN had also encouraged many other countries to learn from Malaysia about the fund which has helped some 2.8 million Malaysians so far.
During the 20 years of its establishment, an average of 200,000 new students receive PTPTN loans annually and so far about 81 percent of the borrowers have repaid their loans.
PTPTN managed to collect repayment of RM3.98 billion in 2017, which is the highest figure recovered as compared to previous years, namely RM1.45 billion in 2015 and RM3.43 billion in 2016.
Ahmad Zahid said PTPTN was now seen to be much stronger than in the initial stages which saw the agency struggling to recover loans.
"In the early stages, I witnessed the challenges and constraints faced by PTPTN staff. Sometimes we had to be more assertive to achieve our objectives. So far only 29 percent of borrowers still have not paid their loans. Don’t think the measures taken to retrieve the loans are tyrannical, we have to look at ourselves who are actually doing wrong by not repaying the debt, all religions demand that debt be settled,” he said.
“It’s also the same with us and the government, we are often portrayed as a tyrannical government, often blamed in campaigns to plant hatred among the people against the government… no matter what, debts have to be paid.
“If we are portrayed as a tyrannical government or organisation, actually it is more ruthless if loans are not given to those who are eligible,” he said.
At the event, Ahmad Zahid (photo) also launched a new initiative to assist PTPTN borrowers, especially the more than 300,000 borrowers who have not made repayments, to get employment after graduation through the JobMatchingPTPTN programme implemented in collaboration with Prestariang Systems Sdn Bhd.
The corporation provides the JobMattchingPTPTN portal for borrowers to apply for job vacancies; to match between academic qualifications, experience and interests of borrowers with vacancies; arranging interviews between employers and borrowers as well as arranging additional skills training either at public universities, Private Educational Institutions, Polytechnics or Community Colleges.
“PTPTN provides an initial allocation of RM20 million to fund additional skills training costing not more than RM2,000 for free to the first 10,000 borrowers. For training costing more than RM2,000, loans will be provided,” he said.
In addition, PTPTN also realises the aspiration of the prime minister to provide an allocation of RM200 million in Budget 2018 to increase the loan amount for students in the B40 (lower income) group, focusing on highly marketable courses to ensure the ability of borrowers to repay the loans.
“PTPTN is also committed to increase the loan amount for students in the B40 group to take up other courses in institutions of higher learning from time to time with a focus on courses that have high marketability to guarantee the repayment of PTPTN loans,” he said.
In addition, the 1Malaysia National Education Savings Scheme (SSPN1M)’s RM50 matching grant incentive has also been increased by 10-fold to RM500 for parents who make an initial minimum deposit of RM500 when opening a SSPN1M account this year, while the scope of the grant was also extended to children aged seven to 12 years.
"This means, that with a deposit of RM500 in the SSPN1M account, the government will put in a matching grant of RM500 free into the account, making it a total deposit amount of RM1,000, it can be considered as an immediate return of 100 percent,” he said.