A bold scheme

Our government’s decision to award grants to private medical students is bold. But it is wrong.

It is bold because it shows that our government can take unconventional measures to get things done – in this case to train more doctors.

But it is wrong because awarding grants to private medical students will not increase the number of doctors. Current private medical students will graduate and become doctors even if the government doesn’t intervene. So helping them will not add to the pool of doctors.

It is wrong because the unexpected grant will benefit current private medical students unfairly. They would enjoy the government’s generosity without having to compete for it.

It is wrong if our government’s decision is, as our education minister reportedly told Kuensel, “… in response to requests made by students”. We have thousands of students studying privately abroad. And it must be that many of them would have even more compelling requests for support.

It is wrong because our government has taken this decision without first understanding how the scheme will be put into practice. Or, for that matter, if it can be put into practice. The “implementation modalities” are only now being developed even as the public continues to voice serious concerns.

And it is wrong because our government should not single out medical students when the country also faces severe shortages of professionals in other areas. These include lawyers and pilots, chartered accountants and chefs, professors and architects, engineers, and even teachers. Will the government help these private students as well?

We need our government to be bold. But that’s not all. Our government must be bold and right. Otherwise we, the people will loose trust and confidence in our own government. And that wouldn’t be good.

Our government should retract its decision.