PETALING JAYA: Vanjniieswara Thamilselvan finished his SPM just as the Covid-19 pandemic began disrupting life in Malaysia.
He was accepted by a government polytechnic for further studies, but the institution was in Ipoh, over 200km from where he lived and would be too costly for his family to afford.
“The 18-year-old reckoned his expenses would add up to RM1,000 a month. He could not afford it, not when his father’s job as a lorry driver had been badly affected,” said a CNA report on how Malaysian families were coping after being financially affected by the pandemic.
But thanks to a scholarship established by Free Malaysia Today and the BAC Education Group, Vanjniieswara was accepted into Veritas University College, an institution under BAC.
The FMT-BAC Scholarship was launched in April this year. It covers foundation, diploma, and degree courses in law, business, hospitality, communications, psychology, early childhood education, IT, accounting, and finance, among others.
The report said from about RM2,000 a month, his father’s income plunged to around RM600 to RM700 when many companies temporarily shutdown and demand for cargo drivers was down. The family was barely able to get by with his mother’s salary from her job at a pharmacy.
Vanjniieswara wrote to other polytechnics and was accepted by Veritas University College in Petaling Jaya, which was much closer to home.
“His results in his foundation year were impressive enough to land him a scholarship to do a three-year accounting and finance degree course. This meant paying only RM1,000 a year in fees.
“I was shocked upon hearing the news. Only RM1,000? I didn’t believe it at first, then (someone on the phone) explained to me about the FMT-BAC scholarship,” Vanjniieswara told CNA.
When he told his parents the news, they were “so happy” because their financial burden would be lifted.
“For higher education, you need more money, right?” his father, Thamilselvan, told the CNA programme, Insight.
“We can’t afford to pay that much. Luckily, he got the scholarship. Thank God, and thanks to BAC’s (co-founder and managing director) Raja Singham and his colleagues and lecturers.”
As Malaysia’s schools and economy reopen after a successful vaccination drive and a fall in Covid-19 cases since September, stories like Vanjniieswara’s might offer hope to children who have suffered setbacks and trauma in the last 20 months.
The report went on to identify many other Malaysian students affected by the trauma of Covid-19 and deaths of their breadwinners, and how many NGOs and individuals are helping these children and families cope with the difficult situation.