Thursday, February 20, 2014

Getting RM200 after spending RM2, 000...

***************************** In the name of Allah, the Beneficent, the Merciful; blessings and peace be upon Prophet Muhammad s.a.w. ******************************* Reflection **************************** The Declining Day (Al-'Asr) 1. By the declining day, 2. Lo! Man is in a state of loss, 3. Save those who believe and do good works, and exhort one another to truth and exhort one another to endurance. ********************************* A few days ago, my Year Six 12-year old daughter proudly brought home a small envelope containing RM100 cash - an incentive by the government to each school going child. *************************** Since I did not turn up during handouts to parents a few days earlier because of an important appointment, the school authorities passed it to my child who before that insisted that I gave her a photocopy of my IC to take to school. *************************** Another child who was in a residential school told me he too received the RM100 cash incentive but during the Chinese New Year school break but he did not bring the money home, saying that it was 'absorbed' to pay 'certain fees' at school. ************************* "Alhamdulillah' (All praises to Allah SWT) and 'jazakallahu khayran ' (may Allah SWT reward you with goodness) to the government for the cash assistance but I must admit that providing for a child's education nowadays is a very, very expensive affair. ******************************* Well, I had received a cash incentive amounting to RM200 'for having two school going children' but before schools reopened in early January, I had forked out about RM2,000 to buy my children their school necessities such as uniforms and books and paid various bills and fees. ************************ If our boys and girls had to buy 'specific items' such as new spectacles (if they were broken) and blazers (if they were appointed prefects) then the money needed might have amounted to a very large amount. ****************************** And for transportation, one has to settle the school bus fares before one's child is allowed to step onto the bus on day one. The rule is pay first, only then would you be allowed to use its service! Nowadays, school bus operators are demanding the government to raise bus fares; about 10-30 percent of the present charges. ******************************* Yes the RM100 cash given to each child helped parents a lot; so thanks to the government; but to the authorities concerned especially top political leaders please do not go around boasting that education is free in Malaysia! **************************** During this Chinese New Year holiday, my Form Five boy brought home a set of notices and announcements from his boarding school ; and while going through its pages, I read the fee of his food amounted to RM750 per year. This amount is to be paid by parents whose monthly income exceeded RM4,999 per month while those with an income of less than that should pay RM250. *************************** The PIBG (Parents and Teachers Association) fees was not decided yet since its annual general meeting had not been called for but based on experience during previous years the amount should be around RM400. For last year it was RM350, which included about 15 items such as the PIBG annual contribution (RM50), computer fees (RM50), tuition classes (RM120) and dhobi RM60). ************************** In early January, my boy had bought his exercise books and other requirements such as name tag, outing T-shirt and extra reading materials but 'Alhamdulillah' nowadays all school children are given free textbooks. ****************************** From what I experience, education nowadays is too costly. It seems like a commodity. The high expenses in education do not begin at the highest level but even at pre-school. For registration in pre-school, it is normal for parents to pay about RM200 a child at any kindergarten including the PAS-run Pasti. The monthly fees differ from a low RM30 at the Pasti to hundreds of ringgit at the commercial and so-called elite kindergartens. ***************************** At the primary and secondary levels, as I had mentioned above judging from my children's needs, parents have had to pay hundreds of ringgit for every single child. A few years ago, the Ministry of Education announced that education was free in Malaysia, but the actual fact is that they only abolished the RM4.50 yearly school fees for primary pupils and RM9 for the secondary students. Luckily every child is now qualified for the school text book loan scheme. If not, parents involved would have to fork out even more. *************************** Several parents in conversation with the writer said on average they spent about RM500 for each child in primary schools. This included his/her uniforms, bags, and writing material. Other than that they had to keep aside about RM50 a month for pocket money and another RM50-RM100 for the bus fares. ******************************* For the secondary school students especially those in residential schools like the writer's Form Five child, the expenses double, amounting to about RM1,000. For these big boys and girls, their pocket money too has to be doubled from what they received at primary school level. ***************************** The cost of university education is even more exorbitant. For the public institutes of higher learning, it may be around RM1,500 each semester (not including food) but for the private ones, I was told it may exceed RM20,000 per semester (all inclusive). ************************** Since education is so expensive, several parents met said it was timely for young people to plan for their future by starting a special fund soon after a child is born. For example, the parents could put aside RM50 a month for the child’s education fund and when he/she was about to enter university, they would not be at a loss as to how to finance their children’s education. Or perhaps they should buy an education policy from insurance companies. ************************* Regarding the huge amount of money (about RM1,000) to be paid when a student enters a residential school, Deputy Prime Minister, Muhyiddin Yassin who is also Education Minister some time ago said his ministry would study that development as the main objective of setting up ‘Sekolah Berasrama Penuh’ (SBP) was to have as many as possible underprivileged pupils especially from rural areas studying in such schools. ******************************* Prior to this, some children from poor families were said to reject offers to such residential schools, claiming they could not afford such exorbitant fees. Imagine how the poor parents had to fork out some RM1,000 a child during registration if they had a meager income of RM500-RM1,500 per month; an amount normally earned by paddy farmers, rubber tappers, fishermen, factory workers and labourers. ********************** To counter the high cost of education in residential schools, the ministry should think a way out; perhaps students from poor families should be exempted from paying food and hostel fees or even better begin a new concept of free education for all in all schools. **************************** Perhaps in a few years time, free education for all from kindergarten to first degree in universities could be available to the ‘rakyat’ in line with the government’s slogan ‘Rakyat didahulukan, pencapaian diutamakan’ (People first performance now). **************************** If the present government cannot fulfil or had failed in this task, why not give 'the other party', 'Pakatan Rakyat' to prove its worth. Well, 'they said' do not be afraid of changes; why not give 'Pakatan Rakyat' a chance?

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