Sunday, 9 September 2007

Free Education, No Fees?

The party is over. The PM has tabled the budget and the rest is just a formality as it usually is in the Malaysian Parliament. As usual, the bill will get through and we the commoners will only get to hear what they want us to hear about the debate.

Yeah, I am not too happy about the non-announcement of bonus payment for civil-servants since Hari Raya is just around the corner but I am still hopeful. Hey that is what us poor people do you know, we hope.

As a teacher, what struck me most about the recent budget is the abolishing of school fees and the extention of the SPBT (Skim Pinjaman Buku Teks) to all irrespective of how much the parents make. Let me tell you why I am eager to hear about this and let me also state my reservations. Lets not party too soon because we will end up crying.

The only thing that will take off fully as promised would be the SPBT for all. Yes, parents would save quite a substantial amount especially if they have more than one school going children. For the real poor, this announcement means nothing of course because they have been getting free book loans all this while. I don't know if the students will still have to fill the book loan forms or they will just be asked if they want books or not. Publishers are of course smiling to the bank and officers in the procurement unit are smiling with them. Schools would definitely have to have a bigger store to keep these books.

I hope they will keep their promise and not end up like the promise they made about the increase allocation of teachers for schools which remained a promise and a sick joke that they played on us.

What is most interesting is the 'no fees' announcement. This I have to see. There is more that meet the eyes here. If parents were to closely scrutinise their children's resit they will see that the school fees is divided into many parts. Payment is made for

Seni
Sukan
Cetakkan
Perpustakaan
MSSM
Takaful
Majalah

Some schools have more divisions here. I can see the government covering the first 4 parts. That in itself would create problems because schools decide what quantum of the fees go to which division depending on their needs. Some school may charge RM6 for cetakan and some schools charge RM16. If the government is going to cover then I am sure they are not going to call schools up and ask how much they charge for this and how much for that.

They will pay a standard amount depending on the grade of the school. Grade A schools get better allocations compared to grade B schools for reasons only known to them. As far as I know, the number of students per class and the quality of teachers and students in these schools are the same accept for the enrolment and the location.

I wonder if the government will also cover the MSSM fees? The MSSM actually charges students to run their activities. A cut of it is then given to the respective state MSSs. Then there is the standard RM4.00 per head for the insurance scheme TAKAFUL. I wonder if the government will cover this also or will require the parents to pay. If the parents have to pay for this, then fees will have to be collected when school commences every new academic year.

What about the magazine fee then? It varies from school to school depending on the thickness and number of coloured pages. Some schools subsidised this through advertisements but not all schools have the required contacts. Schools in the rural areas are definitely at a disadvantage. Premier schools usually charge very high for magazines sometimes making up more than 30 % of the fees collected each year.

Some schools do not have magazines and thus collect no such fee. Some are already going electronic where students would be given a CD at the end of the year. This is of course a cheaper alternative and you can splash as much colour as you want.

Would the government then cover these magazine fees or parents have to dig into their pockets for this. In my school, the magazine fees, TAKAFUL and MSSM fees make up more then 50 % of the fees students pay. Without MSSM it still comes to nearly 50 % of the fees. If parents have to bear the magazine fees and TAKAFUL fees then it would mean there will be fees but reduced by about 50%, so the term 'no fees' is inaccurate.

Some schools will try to be clever and decide to raise the magazine fees for more glamour just because students do not have to pay the other fees.

And for the main course ladies and gentlemen, the PIBG fees. The amount collected in PIBG fees varies greatly from as low as RM5 to as high as RM50. Oh, yes, it is not uncommon to hear of schools charging as high as RM50 for the PIBG fees. Actually schools are not allowed to charge a fee for PIBG, they can collect donations or 'sumbangan ilkhlas' but schools decide to retain the term IKHLAS but changed its meaning to WAJIB.

Why so much, some might ask. Schools are burdened with many expenses that the government do not cover or cover only partially. Schools are expected to come out with various activities which require money and the allocation given is just too small to cover all these so they go to their respective PIBGs for fund. Not all PIBGs have high-powered individuals who could sponsorthese activities or get donations, so, they charge a fee under 'sumbangan ikhlas' I don't blame them. School's PIBGs spend sometimes in excess of 20K a year to finance their activities. Parents who attend the PIBG AGM know this but many don't because the have never attended a single AGM.

The question is will the government also give an allocation to all PIBGs? If not then fees would surely be collected. Then there are schools that charge up to RM100 for computer clubs where pupils get to use the computers for only a few times a year. This is on top of the computers the school already have in their labs. This is not bullshit, many schools do this. Some of them incorporate this fees into the PIBG fees and some collect separately.

Will the government cover this also? Will resit books really be burnt this coming academic year or there will be less entry only. This has got to be fully explained to the people so that they don't feel cheated, otherwise, please don't call it Free Education. The moment you decide to charge for something then it is no longer FREE.

Some may say what is all this fuss about some loose change. It may be loose change to them but tell that to the petani's, nelayans and penorehs. Oh, you can exclude the penternak khinzirs, politicians and connected businessmen, this is indeed loose change to them.

21 comments:

cakapaje said...

Salam Cikgu,

Honestly, I cannot really relate to this issue as I have yet to have any off-springs. But somehow, after glancing today's The Star headline, my mind goes "Aha! You take away from Peter to give Paul! But somehow along the way, you give to Mary 3/10 of the takings, pocket 5/10, leaving the pittance 2/10 to Paul, where Paul here is us...the rakyat". Make sense?

Apologies, my mind is in extra-critical mood today. I'm still recovering from high fever. And my anger is seething feverishly high against the injustice to our people.

monsterball said...

kata tak nak...Just read the most corrupted football association ministry rediculous charges...all revealed in STAR in details...but S.Times put out a somewhat vague report. For example ...buying a set of low cheap screw drivers worth RM24 and charge to the assoc...RM520..then..something worth RM50 and charge to Asso...RM5000++
This is just one of the hundreds sickening corrupted low down UMNO politicians daring charges..and those idiots think...with a receipt...and jag it up will be okay.
Pak Lah must be given some credit to be more concern for the public in general...and yes...that could be a cunning election bribes to all of us to vote for BN and UMNO....hahahahaha
Old foxes lie us will not fall into the traps....but how many votes that can get....we will see soon.
And finally...i enjoy very much Wong Nim Wee's...."NAGERAKUKU" rap.
Go listen to that at Susan's current blog ...posted by "V T" writer and tell me...if that is cute... witty and telling all truths....or is it offensive.

Hi&Lo said...

Sir,

Free but with hidden costs?

Kata Tak Nak said...

cakapaje,
I am under the weather myself and both my physical and emotional temperatures are high. For once can't they do something with sincerity?

Kata Tak Nak said...

Monty,
Somehow I am not surprised. Many PAC reports have shown improprieties before but very little action is taken. We will see what happens this time.

Kata Tak Nak said...

hi&lo,
I got this feeling that many parents are going to be dissappointed.

alhusseyn said...

Publishers are of course smiling to the bank and officers in the procurement unit are smiling with them. - Especially those buku latihan publishers and suppliers.Most of the SPBT books are lacking in latihan and seldom used by teachers coz of the lenghty notes compared to 'Buku Latihan'
What about Yuran Komputer?

Kerp (Ph.D) said...

cikgu,

like brother cakapsaje, i cant relate much on this but 'they' sure have been very generous this time around havent they? this cld be their way of thanking the rakyat but still i cant help but sniffed something hanyir.

frankie said...

If the expenditure of the government is under control, transparent and minimum leakage, we could have had this free education long time ago. Compared to the leakages and obscene amount of monies spent on silly and unproductive ways, government could have provided free and quality education for the rakyat. Why only now or is it the election is near?

tokasid said...

Salam che'gu:

If I remember correctly, the so called free text books to all was supposed to be this year 2007, but somehow Noh Omar told us it was not to be.The publishers were fouled( they had printed those books). And parents who had to but books started to look for books which are actually vey few in the market.
When my son came to SMAP Kajang, we had to go to Bangi to look for his books. And becoz there were none, some of the books had to be photostated.

Lets hope, by December Noh Omar doesn't get the honour of announcing that there will be no free textbooks for 2008.

And che'gu....mana ada benda free di malaysia ni. The 'hidden' school fees will knock-out most parents with many kids.

buayaputih said...

Hi Che'gu,

So far I remember, only few text books were really used in the class (not sure of other school), i.e BM, Sejarah, Kimia, Fizik, Biologi and Pendidikan Islam. Kimia, Fizik n Biologi text books were referred to mainly for the experiment procedures only huhu. The most useful one was Sejarah. English text book never open one haha

Kata Tak Nak said...

AlHusseyn,
The thing I find most lacking in the books given for book loans is of course the lack of latihan. You have to do lots and lots of latihan. Apa depa tak tau ka tu?

Kata Tak Nak said...

Kerp,
Something is very hanyir one. You can bet5 your last ringgit on it.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Frankie,
If the government pays the current market price for its purchases and services acquired, we can have free hospitalisation, completely free education with full scholarship for all university students and maybe some extra cash to pay the civil-servants more.

Kata Tak Nak said...

Doc,
You should see the qaulity of books given as loans. They literaly disintegrate in your hands.

They may give but mark my work, early in the year, there will be a shortage coz the publishers can't cope for the sudden surge in demand. Probably in March to May.

Kata Tak Nak said...

BuayaPutih,
I very seldom use the textbook to reach because it is practically useless.

Mat Salo said...

"I very seldom use the textbook to reach because it is practically useless".

Ha, dengar tu.. Chegu tak pakai text book to teach. Useless, hehee..

Hmmm.. Kerp, Chegu, your sense of smell must be very keen indeed. Hanyir? Hapak, or izzit haprak chegu? Ooops, I meant, hapak.

There's no so thing as a free lunch, as some of the astute observers here say.. because semua ada hidden cost. Thanks Chegu for your insider's view.

And then you have rich parents (lani yang banyak loose change ni)who deliberately under-declare their income so their children can qualify. Shame on them lah.

Ha! Now make some publisher richer and create more dent in the budget to subsidize this when the money could be better diverted elsewhere like improving the lot of our Cikgu's for instance, betul tak?

Kata Tak Nak said...

Mat Salo,
Welcome back. While typing I just heard on the tv the price of chicken is going up and they don't fucking care about the ceiling price. I tell you, stop exports to Singapore. Why should we suffer just to feed those arseholes. Ban all chicken exports to that dot and we'll have plenty of chicken and suddenly they could sell their chickens below the ceiling price. This is the job of those bastard rearers and nothing else. What will happen eventually? The gov will give in to those bastards.

Raden Galoh said...

Salam Bro...First let me laugh my heart out...Muahahahahaha...Funny? Don't y'all find it humorous? Are they pulling our legs AGAIN? Nanti ada masalah negara lagi duit bajet buku, yuran kena bagi kat depa...TIpah tertipu lagi lah nampaknya...macam tahun ni...rakyat asyik kena gula-gula je ek?

Kata Tak Nak said...

Raden,
You give me an idea. Our government is actually a sweets seller an many sweet thooth Malaysians falls for their sweet talk.

A Voice said...

... and you've only touch one small aspect of the budget.

I am in midst of writing some strange things on this budget.

Why I take the trouble to do so?

I just have no confidence and trust in the current administration.

Thus far, there is many part of the budget is full of lies.

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