PTPTN profiteers not questioned

PTPTN profiteers not questioned

In the last one week, the whole debate on the National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans only focused on two issues.

One blames the Pakatan Harapan government in trying to impose the travel ban which they themselves said will do away with while the second, blames students for not paying up the loan.

But there is one pertinent question many have missed in this debate; who is making the most profit out of PTPTN? Why students before 1997 did not have this problem?

The answer is simple. This is part of Malaysia’s move towards the neo-liberal education system and to facilitate this, the Private Higher Educational Institutions Act was established in 1996, which provides the legal and regulatory framework for the privatisation of higher education in the country.

Education was liberalised and foreign colleges mushroomed as education was turned into another commodity simply to make money.

Left without choice, many students enrolled in these private higher learning institutions and naturally, they needed funds to study and PTPTN became the so-called solution.

There are three questions that need to be answered here. They are:

1.            Why does private education cost three times higher than in public universities?

2.            Who owns these private institutions of higher learning?

3.            Who ends up paying for all these?

Let us answer the first question.

Private institutions of higher learning charges between RM50,000 to RM270,000 for a Degree programme while public universities only charges between RM5,000 to RM10,000 for the same programme.

To make matters worse, the government had stopped expanding public higher learning institutions while allowing the private ones to mushroom. This will only result in education cost to soar as private institutions are driven by profit, not education.

For the second question, most of these private higher education institutions are owned by cronies of the ruling parties, royalties and government-linked companies. Students borrow from PTPTN and these people make money out of the poor students.

As for the third question, the government inevitably has to force students to pay up or bailout PTPTN using public funds.

So, looking back at PTPTN- what purpose does it really serve? It has only succeeded in lowering the education standard by reducing grades to accommodate more students.

It has gone into getting students’ private data and coerced them to get loans. Many schemes have been established to facilitate this. This is the business of education.

While we are arguing about how it is a moral duty for students to repay the loans, million are being siphoned out by huge corporates in the name of education.

By S Arutchelvan

S Arutchelvan is Parti Sosialis Malaysia’s central committee member.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of The Leaders Online.

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