Budget 2024: RM1.9bil to upgrade, maintain schools nationwide

KUALA LUMPUR: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has announced an allocation of RM1.9bil for the upgrading and maintenance of schools across the country next year.

When tabling Budget 2024 in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday (Oct 13), he said the allocation includes RM930mil for improving dilapidated buildings and facilities at 450 schools with 185 projects in Sarawak and 155 projects in Sabah.

"RM1bil is allocated for the maintenance of all school types namely national, religious, Tamil and Chinese types schools including special education focusing on the needs of autistic students," he said.

Anwar, who is also Finance Minister, said education remains the crucial component receiving allocations in the country's budget planning with the Ministry Education allocated RM58.7bil compared to RM55.2bil this year.

He said a total of 26 new schools will be built with a total cost amounting to RM2.5bil including Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Laya-laya in Tuaran, Sabah, SMK Baie in Bintulu, Sarawak, SMK Seri Melati in Kuantan, Pahang, SMK Bandar Universiti in Bandar Seri Iskandar, Perak and SMK Binjai in Kota Baru, Kelantan.

The government is also expanding the income criteria for parents applying for the Federal Small Scholarship (BKP) for their children, based on the Poverty Income Line (PGK) of RM2,589 from RM1,500, he said, adding that this will benefit an additional 35,000 children from low-income families.

"To ensure that children from poor families do not miss out on education, the government has also agreed to extend the Poor Students' Trust Fund assistance to Form Three students which was previously provided to Form One students. One million students will receive the benefit with an allocation of RM150mil," he said.

Anwar also announced that a special cross-ministerial STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) committee will be established to set targets and implement measures to increase the participation of secondary school students in these fields.

He said the government allocated RM100mil to maintain and upgrade school computer labs as well as procure new equipment to facilitate STEM learning, adding that industry representatives will also be involved as instructors, in addition to supplying equipment.

As part of the efforts to empower and protect the well-being of special needs students, he said 18 new special needs blocks will be built with an allocation of RM180mil at SMK Kubang Rotan in Kedah, Sekolah Kebangsaan Bandar Baru Perda in Penang and SMK Dato Ali Ahmad in Perlis.

Anwar also announced an allocation of RM30mil to provide special needs support equipment and facilities for People with Disabilities to facilitate the affairs of students and teachers in schools.

A total of RM100mil is allocated to implement a holistic approach involving all quarters to help students who have fallen behind and require further guidance as Malaysia recorded the highest number of school closures compared to other countries in the region during the Covid-19 pandemic, he said.

The Prime Minister also stated that Education Ministry will carry out the National Education Future tour to ensure that the National Education Development Plan currently being formulated also takes into account the suggestions and concerns of parents, stakeholders and the industry.

"The cultivation of Karamah Insaniah (human dignity) among school children will be expanded in the implementation of character-building programmes that focus on leadership, personality, manners and integrity," he added. – Bernama

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