The government has been urged to adopt a fair and pragmatic approach over the suspension of the MyBrain15 scholarship programme, and review its successes and achievements before making a decision. (File photo taken online)

KUALA LUMPUR: The government has been urged to adopt a fair and pragmatic approach over the suspension of the MyBrain15 scholarship programme, and review its successes and achievements before making a decision.

Prof Datuk Dr Abdul Rashid Mohamed, who is Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Foundation Studies Research Unit coordinator, said three factors, namely healthcare, security and education, should always be given priority by any government.

He said the suspension of any programmes which are tied to the three items has to be done professionally and based on solid research.

“If we can save in other areas, fine and well. But matters which relate to healthcare, security and education has to be given priority as this the cornerstone of the people.

“As such, the decision to suspend the MyBrain15 scholarship programme should first be backed up by a study to assess its success rate in elevating the standards of education and its recipients’ socio-economic status.

“Scholarship programmes have two impacts, which are direct and indirect, to the government as well as MyBrain15 fund recipients. Thus, any decision to press on or postpone must be based on more solid reasoning,” he said.

Abdul Rashid was asked to comment on the government’s decision to postpone to MyBrain15 programme, which was created in 2008 to provide scholarships and create more PhD holders.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, in a talk show broadcast live on RTM1 on July 25, had said the programme had to be suspended due to the large government debt, as well as being hampered by the country’s financial situation.

In response, Youth and Sports Minister Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman, over Twitter on Friday, said the decision to suspend the programme should be reviewed, as it represented the government’s investment towards the nation’s youth.

The 2018 Budget, tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Oct 27, 2017, had allocated RM90 million for the MyBrain15 programme to enable 10,600 recipients to further their studies and obtain their PhD.

Meanwhile, Abdul Rashid said a ‘compromise’ could be reached by continuing the scholarship programme albeit at a minimum rate.

He said economic factors, such as debt and global trade war, are temporary in nature. Continuing the programme with minimal funding, he said, would leave the door open to it being fully reinstated once the economic situation improves.