PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday awarded the 1Malaysia Development Berhad scholarship to 17 top students of religious schools in the country to study medicine in Egypt.
Selected from more than 500 applicants, the sekolah menengah agama negeri and sekolah menengah agama rakyat students, most of whom are in the first and second year at various universities in Egypt, will get RM50,000 annually for six years to pursue their medical degrees.
Speaking at the scholarship presentation ceremony here yesterday, Najib said the scholarship reflected the government's commitment in recognising the ability of students from religious streams to pursue degrees in critical areas of studies.
"I want to see students from religious schools given a choice, either to pursue religious studies and subsequently be attached at the federal or state level as religious officers, kadi and jobs related to Islamic institutions or to pursue critical areas of studies like medicine.
"This is in line with the country's aim to develop its human capital well and to create a successful Islamic civilisation."
The initiative will also help the government in attaining its target of reducing the doctor to patients ratio from 1:1,145 to 1:600 by 2020.
Najib also said he would consider increasing next year's allocations for the scholarship, which is a partnership between 1MDB and the Department of Islamic Development Malaysia (Jakim). IMDB is a government-owned strategic development company.
Jakim selects the students and monitors the scholarships while 1MDB provides the funds through its corporate social responsibility entity, the 1MDB Foundation.
1MDB has committed RM5.1 million in the pilot programme. Recipients will use the funds to cover their tuition fees and living expenses.
Najib also said the allocations could be expanded to other areas of studies, including Islamic banking which is a fast developing sector in the country.
At the ceremony, recipients who were already studying in Egypt called in via teleconferencing to thank the prime minister for paving the way for them to achieve their ambition in the field of medicine.
They also pledged to contribute their expertise to the country upon completion of their studies.
Read more: Medical scholarship for religious school students http://www.nst.com.my/nst/articles/4pma/Article/#ixzz13Be7nYti