(From left) State secretary Abdul Razak Jaafar, Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, Penang EXCO Chong Eng and Akademi J&W Sdn Bhd managing director Tan Guan Heng at the signing of the MoU. (Pic from Facebook)

On November 3 2021, a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) was signed between the Penang government and J&W Academy Sdn Bhd, an education sponsorship provider to offer 1,000 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) graduates below 30 years old a full scholarship and a pathway to quality employment under its Education Sponsorship Programme.

As the Covid-19 pandemic has dealt a heavy blow to the financial situation of many families, the rationale is to help young Penangites who are unable to pursue further education in public universities and also could not, or no longer could afford to study in private universities.

The programme does this by providing awardees with an opportunity to work at about 120 companies in the state who have collaborated with J&W Academy, while continuing to study for a diploma or degree that is accredited by the Malaysian Qualifications Agency under Wawasan Open University, Open University Malaysia and Lincoln University College. In accordance with the Employment Act, they will also earn a minimum monthly wage of RM1,200 with EPF and Socso contributions.

To qualify for the assistance programme, SPM graduates need to secure at least a pass in Bahasa Melayu and Sejarah as well as a credit in any of the three other subjects.

The Education Sponsorship Programme is expected to benefit many school leavers from underprivileged families who are unable to continue their tertiary education and is one of the state’s efforts to invest in human capital for the development and growth of the state.

Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow awarding a mock cheque worth RM7,500 to Penang state hockey player Muhammad Syazwan Rosli (Pic by Buletin Mutiara)

Another similar initiative that has been undertaken by the government is the Penang State Sports Council (PSSC) scholarship of over RM80,000 to 38 athletes under the Penang Athlete Career Education (PACE) programme in April earlier this year.

The scholarship is offered in two forms: education incentives and sports scholarships; the former is given on a one-off basis to Penang athletes who have received offers to further their studies in certificate, pre-diploma, diploma, or full-time bachelor’s degree programmes in public and private institutions while the latter is given to state athletes who had represented Penang in the Sukma Games. So far, the state has awarded RM66,100 to 16 athletes through the PSSC scholarship programme and RM22,200 to 24 athletes through the Institute of Higher Learning (IPT) Education Incentives.

Apart from financial assistance, the Penang government also intends to build up the PACE programme by establishing a State Athlete Welfare Scheme to protect the welfare of state athletes through bereavement assistance, illness treatment assistance, one-off surgery expenditure assistance, and natural disaster relief as well as provide former Penang state athletes with the opportunity to take up coaching as a career through the  ‘Penang Junior Coaches’ programme.