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
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.
- ► 2011 (21)
- ► 2010 (53)
- ► 2009 (141)
- ► 2008 (338)
- ▼ September (12)