KUALA LUMPUR: There is no plan to close agencies under the Education Ministry, only overhaul them to boost their efficiency, says Deputy Minister Teo Nie Ching.
As the government looks at cutting costs, it does not mean the ministry’s agencies will be closed, she added.
“We are not closing the Institutes of Teacher Education (IPG), we need them to train primary school teachers. “As for the 1BestariNet, we are reviewing our contract with YTL Communications in order to be more cost-effective.
“Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik mentioned this in Parliament last year,” she told reporters after presenting the UCSI Awards and Scholarships yesterday.
A total of 1,528 students received 19 types of awards through the UCSI University Trust.
Teo made her comments in response to a news portal report that the ministry’s agencies are facing the axe in Putrajaya’s cost-cutting measures.
The report named the agencies as the Education Performance and Delivery Unit, IPGs, Malaysian Institute of Translation and Books (ITBM) and state Education Technology divisions.
Teo said the ministry’s contract with YTL expires in June, adding that there are 6,000 new admissions into IPGs for the July intake.
“It’s an exercise and general instruction given to all ministries to boost the efficiency of government agencies.
“At this stage, at least within the Education Ministry, there is no decision to close any agency,” she added.
1BestariNet was introduced in 2011 by the ministry under a 15-year project that will cost RM4.077bil to complete.
Reacting to the portal’s report, National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said unlike institutions of higher learning that were more concerned with academics, IPGs were masters at producing teachers who could teach in class and also carry out co-curricular activities like sports training effectively.
“Previously, nine IPGs were earmarked to be converted for other purposes but there was just too much at stake – we’d be losing well-trained teachers,” Tan said, adding that varsities are more suited to train teachers of knowledge-based subjects like biology and chemistry.
“Primary school pupils need teachers who are geared towards fun learning, and basic and psychomotor skills.”
Universiti Malaya’s Faculty of Education dean Prof Dr Rohaida Mohd Saat said a number of public varsities were already offering education programmes and training teachers.
“The Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris is a teacher-training university.
“With sufficient budget for facilities and manpower, public universities can take the role of IPGs.
“But research and publications may be impacted when lecturers have to teach more.”
She said salary grades were also an issue.
“The majority of IPG lecturers are at grades 54, 52 and 48. In school, these grades are for the principal and senior teachers.
“Also, not many IPG lecturers have doctorates, so to transfer them to varsities is an issue.”
She said the ministry must assess the impact on lecturers if IPGs were taken over by institutions of higher learning.
West Malaysia Malay Teachers Union president Jasni Md Kechik agreed that measures to increase the ministry’s management efficiency should be carried out.
This, he said, is to ensure that there is no overlap in functions and roles.
“The process of reviewing, consolidating and streamlining the ministry’s agencies and divisions can save resources while ensuring the quality of our education system,” he added.