RM200 million tuition voucher scheme for 500,000 poor primary schoolchildren while laudable is troubling admission of the failure of the national education system to provide quality education – when tuition should be the exception instead of the rule for over 50 per cent of the students in the schools concerned
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Wednesday): While the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi yesterday of a RM200 million tuition voucher scheme to help primary school-children from poor families to obtain extra lessons in four subjects is laudable as an assistance to poorer sectors of our society, it is also very troubling as it was an admission of the failure of the national education system to provide quality education for all.
When he announced that the RM200 million scheme would help 500,000 Year Four, Five and Six pupils in rural schools and certain schools in poor urban areas in Mathematics, Science, English and Bahasa Malaysia, Abdullah said: "This additional tuition is important because we have found that tuition is good for the pupils. So, we want to help children from poor families who can't afford to pay for tuition."
A hallmark of a primary and
secondary school system characterized with quality education is one where
students learned what is required of their syllabus within the confines of
space and time of the school, without having to seek tuition outside the
school and after school hours to learn what they are supposed to have learnt
Now, the Education Minister, Tan Sri Musa Mohamad and the Education Ministry seemed to have thrown in the towel in admitting utter failure to upgrade the quality, efficiency and effectiveness of the education system, when tuition provision has to be made for 500,000 Std. IV, V and VI pupils in rural schools and certain poor urban schools – which could represent over 50 per cent of the total pupil population in the schools concerned.
From the nature of the announcement, it would appear that the RM200 million tuition voucher scheme is only confined to the national primary schools and does not extend to Chinese and Tamil primary schools, which would be most unfair – and the Education Minister should give immediate clarification on the matter.
Most important of all, Musa should explain why the 10-year Education Development Masterplan 2001-2010 is such a colossal failure to upgrade the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of both primary and secondary education that the Education Ministry has to institutionalize a system of tuition to supplement normal schooling, where teachers may give greater priority to tuition classes instead of their normal classes.
Malaysians are entitled to know whether Musa has any remedial plan to upgrade the efficiency, effectiveness and quality of the education system to make tuition whether for primary or secondary students an exception rather than the rule as at present?
At the rate of deterioration of the standards and quality of the national education system, it would not be long before there would have to be a special division on tuition in the Education Ministry, together with the appointment for an Deputy Minister of Education to be specially responsible for the tuition classes and students – a perverted form of “Malaysia Boleh”.
* Lim Kit Siang, DAP National Chairman