SCHOOL fees for students in both primary and secondary schools have been abolished, effective next year.
Currently, the compulsory fee is RM4.50 per pupil in primary and RM9 per student in secondary government schools.
Beginning 2008, the Textbook Loan Scheme will be provided to all students, irrespective of their families income and with no restrictions on the number of eligible children.
This scheme will benefit 5.7 million students compared to 4.5 million now.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said this in turn means there will be a reduction in administrative work for teachers.
This should translate into teachers concentrating more on their core business, which is teaching our children, he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
To ensure every student has the opportunity to participate in uniformed activities, the Government will provide a free uniform for one activity to students from families with an income of RM1,000 and below.
When the ministrys secretary-general Tan Sri Dr Zulkurnain Awang was growing up in Kelantan, he could not join the Scouts as he could not afford the uniform, so this will certainly help other families.
Now they will no longer have the excuse that they cant afford to let their children become involved in uniformed activities, he said.
Hishammuddin added that the allocation of RM500,000 for each cluster school would be based on performance.
While I am happy our cluster approach has been recognised, it is not the same for all cluster schools, it must be based on performance.
We have to make sure they have done what we expect before they get a single sen, he told reporters at the Parliament lobby.
The minister announced the list of the 30 pioneer cluster schools in March where school heads were given autonomy in five key areas human resources, school funds, student intake, teaching and learning, and examinations and evaluation.
According to Budget 2008, to further enhance the quality and performance of schools, 60 more schools have been selected to become cluster schools next year.
The allocation of RM500,000 would be provided to each cluster school for co-curriculum activities, training and education equipment.
On retired teachers being recruited to train teachers, Hishammuddin said this was because they could share with future teachers what to expect when they started teaching.
This is something you can't learn from the textbooks as it comes from experience, he said.
On whether they would be based at teacher training institutes, he said the ministry would have to study the mechanism.