I Don't Get It

Why do governments have to be so screwy? TP gets to spend all his time reading about the weird policies of the goverment here, while I (jm) get to talk with actual, hard-working government employees who tend to have some serious grievances with their employers. I get really frustrated just listening to the stories, I can’t imagine having to work in these departments.

Take this guy I met yesterday, for example. He was just informed that he has been awarded a scholarship to get a Master’s Degree in Medical Devices or Medical Physics. Problem number one is that he has only until October to find a program and get started, or else he loses the funding. It is pretty much too late to get into any program for the fall term right now, so the only hope is to quickly get admitted somewhere for the spring term and then hope the goverment is lenient about the timing. Problem number two is that there are no courses that I could find called “Medical Devices”. I’ve run into this problem several times already; students come in looking for majors which are worded differently here than in the States. The problem is that for government scholarships, they won’t give you funding if you don’t go for a program with that exact name. So he can look for medical physics programs (which he is not really interested in) or try for something else that comes close in the name department. But basically, the government has given him a generous scholarship that he can’t possibly use.

Today I saw a women from another government ministry who wants to get a PhD in Health Economics (this program does exist, thankfully). She applied for a government sponsorship scholarship last year, and was told, among other things, that she is too young. This woman has an M.D., a Master’s in Finance, and a Master’s in Public Policy, all foreign degrees. So she’s not that young. The oldest you can be to qualify for a scholarship from the government is 45, so she argued with the guy and said that if she waits until she is 45, by the time she finishes her PhD she will almost be ready to retire. This sounds like a pretty strange way of doing things; you’d think if you were funding further study, you’d want to assure that you’d get lots of return on the investment. So she applied again this year, and has not heard the results yet. At her interview this time, she was told that she was overqualified, and that she should just go back to the hospital and doesn’t need to bother with a PhD. Again, this seems kind of strange. Here is a woman who has worked in all areas of this ministry (including the hospital setting) for 14 years, has used all three of her advanced degrees to the ministry’s advantage (including doing tax work herself instead of the department having to hire an accountant), and they feel like telling her that she doesn’t need a PhD? What nonsense. Oh, and there was one other thing. She’s Indian, and as she said, “the color of my skin is a little bit off.” I’m guessing that this unfortunately has something to do with her frustrations. But, like so many other ballsy professional Indian women I’ve met here, she’s decided to go and she’s going to make it work somehow, period. Good for her.

This brings me back to the whole problem of education here in Malaysia that TP has recently posted about. Its like they’re trying to do the right thing but going about it all wrong. These are not the only two cases I’ve seen like this, I’ve probably seen at least 9 or 10, and crazy educational requirements which are impossible to fulfill make for some very frustrated citizens.