Monday, February 05, 2007

Review text book loan scheme

Free textbooks for those who really deserve

Come the month of January each year, parents are burdened with the expenses to provide education for their children. The amount needed keeps increasing every year. These include the money required for school uniform, attire for sports and co-curricular activities, shoes, transport, books, tuition fees and food. The amount needed may come up to hundreds of ringgit per child , which becomes beyond the means of an average wage earner with a number of school going children.

The government did the right thing in coming up with the text book loan scheme in all schools to ease the financial burden of the people. It was with the sole noble intention of providing the all important education that is vital for its citizens.

According to this scheme parents with an income of RM1000 and more are not eligible for free text books for their children. At the present cost of living this limit I feel is grossly unjust, as RM 1,000 is such negligible amount for even a family of four these days. There are so many parents with income exceeding this limit but are really finding ends meet and have to resort to loan sharks, the consequences of which we are all familiar.

The implementation of the free textbook scheme needs to be reviewed. By strictly relying solely on documents to prove one’s salary, a large number of genuine applicants are rejected whereas many with more than the stipulated income but “tahu jalan” are granted the free textbooks. It is indeed sad that a “I win all always” culture is gaining roots in our country. There is total disregard for those genuinely in need. Even what is rightfully theirs is snatched away by those who “tahu jalan”.

A more comprehensive mechanism should be implemented in selecting those who require assistance with the textbooks. Families with a total income of less than RM2,000 should automatically qualify for the free textbook scheme. Those with more than RM2,000 but less than RM5,000 should be scrutinized by a case by case basis. All essential financial commitments of the parents should be examined, such as number of dependents (children and aged parents), medical expenditure, house loans, motor vehicle loans and so on.

We are sure many teachers and headmasters are aware of the plight of these poor parents but are unable or refuse to help because of strict enforcement of the stipulated salary limit. This is a pitiful state of affairs of our administration. We have very good and fantastic plans but many of them fail because of poor implementation due to lack of the human touch of those entrusted with the powers to do so.

Dr.Chris Anthony

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