COST-CUTTING is okay, but feedback from stakeholders are a must.
Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said all relevant parties must be consulted before closure plans are even suggested.
When harsh and hasty decisions are made, there will be difficult repercussions to face in the long run, he said.
Consumers, especially parent-teacher associations (PTAs), must be consulted, he said, adding that there are many areas in the Education Ministry where costs could be saved.
“Focus on areas that can bring in more revenue. Cut down on mega projects like building big schools in the wrong areas.
“When I visit my hometown, Taiping, I notice many schools that are underpopulated as they’re in areas with small populations,” he said.
On April 6, deputy minister Teo Nie Ching said there were plans to overhaul and boost the efficiency of agencies under the Education Ministry.
But cutting costs, she said, doesn’t mean the ministry’s agencies will be closed.
She was commenting on a news portal report that the ministry’s agencies - namely, the Education Performance and Delivery Unit (PADU), Institutes of Teacher Education (IPG), Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books (ITBM) and state Education Technology divisions - are facing the axe in Putrajaya’s cost-cutting measures.
A father of two, who is PTA chairman of a Petaling Jaya school, is supportive.
“Streamlining the many different units not only at ministry level, but at state and district levels, is a positive step because there’s too much bureaucracy, red tape, and unproductive workers.
“(For example) there are private varsities offering teaching degrees that overlap with IPGs. Teacher training must be independent and private, to prevent bias,” he said, adding that 1BestariNet should be scrapped.
“Kids learn much more IT stuff outside than in school. Laptops are a waste and ecologically unfriendly because of their short life span, fragile construction, and battery dependency.”
Universiti Malaya’s (UM) International Institute of Public Policy and Management deputy director Dr Zuwati Hasim said the number of IPGs could be reduced but not done away with.
“We may not need 27 IPGs as varsities can help with the load.
“Both can co-exist with each focusing on different content. IPGs can cater for in-service training and special education or mastery of content subjects.”
She said UM can cope with training primary teachers as the intake for teacher training is usually small. UM previously ran a twinning programme with Maktab Perguruan Ilmu Khas (now known as Institut Pendidikan Guru Kampus Ilmu Khas), which she said was successful.
“We no longer run it but our Teaching of English for Young Learners (TEYL) graduates have gone on to become successful teachers. With the TEYL then, our intake was 75 students and we managed well so I think we can cope with training primary teachers,” she said, adding that the TEYL was run concurrently with the training of pre-service TESL (Teaching English as a Second Language) secondary school teachers and special teacher certification course.
SK Taman Megah Parent-Teacher Association chairman Rodney Teoh said the Education Ministry could do away with PADU, ITBM, state Education Technology divisions, and 1BestariNet.
“But IPGs shouldn’t be closed down. Instead, the ministry should revamp the IPG curriculum to produce more competent teachers,” he said, adding that parents are worried about the syllabus and teacher quality.
He, however, said there are pros and cons to any closure.
“It’ll help the government cut cost. But unemployment will go up.”
Jia Zong adviser Edward Neoh Chuan Tat agreed. The ministry shouldn’t waste more time and resources on 1BestariNet, he said.
“Many parents don’t even know about it. It’s outdated. PADU, ITBM, and others, perform duplicate roles, but it’s sad to shut down the IPGs as these take a lot of time and effort to establish.
“What’s going to happen to the teacher trainers and all the staff?”
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said PADU should remain until 2025 as its purpose was to ensure the effective implementation of the blueprint, while state education technology divisions can be merged into the state education departments.
“Should the IPGs close down, teacher trainers can be placed at the district level to ensure mentoring takes place. And, teachers (from agencies facing closure) can be placed in schools to address the perennial teacher shortage problem,” she said, noting that painful cutbacks are necessary to ensure efficiency.
Former IPG rector and 2015 Tokoh Guru award recipient Tan Sri Dr Haili Dolhan called on the Education Ministry to prioritise what needs to be done based on the financial resources available.
“I’m sure there are many areas that can be scrapped or downsized. That’s where creativity and ability to do things differently, come in.
“But the government must prioritise and identify areas that need more allocation. Equal allocation among all ministries isn’t necessarily better,” he said, adding that crucial and important programmes should be a priority.
National Union of Heads of Schools Malaysia president Wong Shee Fatt, however, said each agency and division has their own function to perform and should be maintained.