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Sunday December 25, 2011

RM100 aid not enough

SHOPPING for school items have been made slightly bearable this year, thanks to the one-off RM100 government stipend given out to all schoolchildren recently.

Children from Year One to Form Five have been given a one-off RM100 “schooling aid” following the announcement made by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the tabling of Budget 2012 in October.

The money was disbursed before the start of the year-end school holidays to help ease the burden of parents preparing their children for the new school year.

While parents are thankful for the RM100 cash assistance, many feel that it is not sufficient considering the price of things now especially in the Klang Valley.

A brand new school bag of avearge quality costs about RM50, uniforms start from RM15 for a shirt, RM30 for long pants and pinafores while the cost of books and stationery can easily exceed RM50.

In addition a schooling child needs two pairs of shoes and uniforms and the costs keep escalating, say parents..

“I normally spend more than RM500 on uniforms, shoes and other school supplies on just one child” said Rosdina Mohd Tahir, 42, a mother of three school-going children.

“You can’t really afford anything less than that when things are so expensive nowadays,” she added.

Manjeet Kaur, 24, took her sister shopping and used up RM60 on a pair of shoes and some stationery while another mother who wanted to be identified only as Christine, 40, said “I haven’t used the RM100 yet, but it will certainly come in handy when I buy books and school uniforms for my daughter. All in, I might be spending about RM400.”

Another mother, Ivy*, said that she had set aside a budget of RM100 for uniforms and about RM200 for books and other materials.

On an average, parents spend about RM500 per child, and especially for those with more children, going back to school is an expensive affair.

Ayu*, 34, has three primary schoolchildren. “I buy new bags and uniforms each year, and I spend about RM1,000.”

“To be honest, I don’t really have a budget, I just go along with what my children need,” said C.C. Chang a mother of three children aged 18,16 and 12.

Many parents have expressed that they would have preferred a bigger amount instead of the RM100 in financial aid from the government.

One mother said that with the soaring prices of many items, “they (the Government) should give us RM500 instead of RM100, everything is so expensive!”

Mother of two, Jane*, wrote to StarEducate lamenting about escalating prices of the annual school-kit like school diaries, sports T-shirt and track pants.

“ The new school term is about to start and I went to pick up the list of things that I had to buy. My daughter is going to Form 1 next year.

“I was shocked when I read the list, as everything was wajib di beli (compulsory) which totals up to RM157,’’ said Jane.

According to her the RM157 did not include school fees, uniform, bag, shoes and exercise books.

“Why on earth do I have to buy new track pants when the old ones are still in good condition?

“Isn’t it enough that the name of the school is printed on the school T shirt? Why a school diary?

There is an endless list of books to buy and parents will also have to fork out more money for uniforms when their children decide on the unit beruniform (uniformed unit) they want to be in, which is a co-curricular requirement, she added.

Jane said that while she was thankful for the RM100 assistance given by the government, she felt it was not enough to reduce her financial burden.

She also questioned the necessity of buying “compulsory” items.

“Why is education becoming such an expensive affair nowadays? And this is not even tertiary education!

“How do people with three school-going children or more manage their finances?”

*Names have been changed