Budget 2021: NGOs want improved online classes with education getting lion's share

PETALING JAYA: With the education sector being the biggest recipient of allocations in Budget 2021 with RM64.8bil, many are calling for improved online classes.

Of the total RM64.8bil alloted, the Education Ministry will get RM50.4bil, while the Higher Education Ministry receives RM14.4bil.

While the National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) and parent groups are lauding the generous amount allocated, they want to see it channeled towards effective online teaching.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said he hoped some of the allocations would be used to train teachers to learn how to conduct effective online teaching.

The most important thing was to ensure the outcome of the allocation spent, he said.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said more should be done to ensure the effectiveness of online classes.

“In light of the Covid-19 pandemic, there is a serious need for students to receive effective online learning.

“While 500 schools will receive laptops for their students, it is a far cry from what is needed, considering students’ access to connectivity, ” she added.

However, Noor Azimah lauded the move to allocate RM420mil for free meals in schools.

Calling it generous, she said parents were battling to keep their jobs and provide food for the children.

NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan said the union was “disappointed” that teachers were not given incentives to improve their digital competencies and reach.

“We hope this will be taken into consideration. Additionally, we hope through the allocation that some money will be channelled towards full-time wardens in schools with hostels.

"We also request that childcare community centres are set up quickly for the teachers and support staff who spend the majority of their time at the workplace, ” he added.

Bumiputra Private Skills Training Institution action committee chairman Nordin Abdul Malek said the RM6bil allocation showed that technical and vocational training was a priority for the government.

He, however, called for close, continuous engagement with stakeholders to ensure that the funds were channelled efficiently and effectively.

“Greater incentives must be offered for labour-intensive sectors like agriculture to encourage local participation, ” he said.

Meanwhile, the Federation of JPK Accredited Centres (FeMac) said it welcomed the additional RM100mil in allocation for the Skills Development Fund Corporation (PTPK), but added that it was less than expected.

PTPK received RM300mil under Budget 2021 to provide loans for 24,000 Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) trainees.

"The allocation is not for private TVET providers only, as it is shared with the public sector," said its president P. Sailanathan.

“It is less than our request, considering the number of students who apply to study TVET, ” he said.

The allocation of RM60mil for the National Dual Training System (SLDN) Plus programme, however, was good news, he added.

FeMAC is an association of accredited private TVET providers.

In previous years, the Education Ministry was also the biggest recipient of allocations in Budget 2020 and Budget 2019, with an allocation of RM64.1bil and RM60.2bil respectively.

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