SEREMBAN: Students will be restricted from taking part in international competitions in a move by the Education Ministry to cut costs.
The hiring of teachers for Pupils’ Own Language (POL) classes will also be shelved due to the same reason.
They are among six additional measures that have been introduced by the ministry to reduce spending. Others include stopping events on a package-basis at private premises. In case of a pressing need, however, prior approval must be obtained from the ministry.
The ministry will also continue to control and monitor utility bills and expects serious efforts to cut wastage in electricity, water, air conditioning as well as telecommunication bills.
Department heads will also have to tighten spending for rental of new premises, transportation, tents as well as photocopiers and ICT and non-ICT items.
Teachers will also not be allowed to travel out of their stations without approval from the state or district office. If they do travel, they will have to be the minimum number using the cheapest mode of travel.
From tomorrow, the ministry will only approve programmes which bring direct benefits to the country such as Unesco and Seameo-related activities.
Programmes to expose students internationally as well as participation in foreign competitions would only be allowed if approved by the ministry’s secretary-general.
“These internal control measures are being introduced to ensure the ministry has sufficient funds to operate for the rest of the year,” said ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad.
“All department and division heads are also required to check on their respective allocations to ensure they are sufficient to pay for all contractual items and current liabilities,” she said.
A POL teacher, Ms Shirley, was disappointed with the move.
“This is a great disadvantage for students who really want to learn their mother tongue. The burden is now on parents to find another means to teach their children if the school does not teach POL any more,” she said.
Association of Science, Technology and Innovation president Dr Mohamed Yunus Yasin said Parents Teachers Association (PTA) or parents should fund students who take part in international competitions.
“It is good to encourage students but if the ministry is reducing costs, considering the economy, then it is understandable,” he said.
Mohamed Yunus said the ministry could rope in private individuals or companies who were willing to sponsor the students.
“Otherwise, our children will be left behind. The issue is not about winning, it is about the exposure,” he added.