SCHOLARSHIPS on offer by the Department of Economic Planning and Development (JPKE) have received "overwhelming responses" from applicants since their introduction to the public last year, Acting Director General of JPKE said.
The department currently opened up two new scholarship schemes: Technical & Vocation Education Scholarship (BPTV) in Local Private Institutions, and Human Capacity Building Scheme in the Private Sector (PSTS), following His Majesty's titah on his 65th birthday.
In an interview with The Brunei Times yesterday, Dr Hjh May Fa'ezah Hj Ahmad Ariffin (pic) said the department has received "a lot" of applications for the scholarships, which were meant to build human resources in the private sector in Brunei.
According to her, the first batch of BPTV has over 900 successful applicants, and have begun their studies in private institutions in Brunei. The applications of the second batch were closed just recently, on December 31 last year, she said.
Applications for the first batch of the PSTS, which was also closed on December 31, are currently undergoing eligibility screenings by the relevant committee of the scholarship scheme. Like the BPTV, the PSTS also received great responses from the public.
"At the moment, JPKE is assessing each of the applications, and then they will be presented to the committee to be approved," she said. The committee, she added, comprised of members from different departments and ministries.
Dr Hjh May Fa'ezah said that the scholarship schemes aimed to provide assistance to the public to increase their knowledge and upgrade their capacity to boost the human resource in Brunei. The objective is to build human capacity in the private sector without any biased preferences for the government sector, she said.
"Unlike previously, there was a perception that only those working in the government sector are able to further their studies, but now the message is strong and clear, the government of His Majesty is really keen...to develop the capacity of our human resource (regardless of which sector)."
Both scholarships were introduced under the Human Resource Development Fund under JPKE, which is currently at $250 million for the National Development Plan 2007-2012.
"It is our hope for those who are given the scholarship (to) appreciate it. As you know, money doesn't grow on trees," she said.
Despite the PSTS being "bond-free", scholars must return to the country work in the private sector, she said.
"Our hope is for people to come back to Brunei and work in the private sector again. He or she is an employee, so hopefully when he or she comes back, they become the tauke (boss)." Low Leng May