EDUCATION groups are happy that Budget 2018 includes allocations for Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said this would help move the country forward in terms of innovation and productivity.
“For our country to move forward, we must have more engineers, people that can invent things, and STEM and TVET train these people to not only invent but to maintain their inventions, so the country is going in the right direction,” he told The Malaysian Insight.
In Budget 2018, the government allocated RM40 million for STEM centres to train teachers with the collaboration of the Academy of Science Malaysia (ASM) and improve the computer science subject. This was not covered in Budget 2017.
As for the TVET Malaysia Masterplan, Budget 2018 has allocated RM4.9 billion for its implementation compared with the RM4.6 billion in the previous year’s budget.
Tan also said the union was happy that the budget had increased the number of special leave days for education officers from seven to 10 days a year, as they have been voicing this concern for more than 10 years.
“Seven days is not enough. When our children are sick or we have to attend our children’s convocation, things like that, the seven days dries up very fast.
“You may say that the teachers are on leave during school holidays, but the teachers are actually not on leave.
“We have to take care of the school, like, for example during SPM, teachers are invigilators, we have to mark papers, and one week before the school reopens, teachers have to report in so that when the students come back, they can already start class,” he said.
Honorary secretary of the Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) Tunku Munawirah Putra said the budget was in line with what PAGE has been asking, which is recognition of ASM.
“We are happy about the STEM education and its allocation and that the ASM is given the recognition to drive this STEM aspiration of the country.
“ASM has been working very hard for this. It has been piloting science pedagogy at some primary schools. We know this because PAGE sits on the Academy Science Education committee,” she told The Malaysian Insight.
She also said that PAGE was happy that the budget had allocated more funds towards improving higher education in Malaysia.
“We are looking at the whole budget allocation for education. It is the biggest budget education to date, and the chunk of it goes to higher education and scholarships.
“If we are serious about having the talent to build a first-world nation, we need people who are educated enough to carry these aspirations through, so it is definitely a good thing.”
She said the SL1M apprenticeship programme, which caters to the employment of fresh graduates, was a good way to develop the younger generation.
“Because at the end of the day, the budget should benefit people in the future as well. Let’s be optimistic about the country. We don’t want to brood on the suspicion that the budget will not work,” she said.
Budget 2018 has allocated RM40 million for the SL1M apprenticeship programme.
National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council (PIBGN) president Professor Mohamad Ali Hassan said the budget had successfully allocated funds for all levels of the education sector.
“The budget has not only continued on what was promised before (such as the School aid @100 target groups, RM250 book vouchers and allocation for different schools), but there were several improvements as well.
“Take for instance the PTPTN loan returns and the allocations for STEM and TVET education,” he said.
Budget 2018 has allocated RM61.6 billion in allocations for education. Compared with last year, the new allocations are the STEM, SL1M and Industrial Building System (RM2.5 billion) for the repair works of schools and introductions of a new scholarship, the Small Federal State Scholarship.