124 schools rewarded

Thursday, June 28, 2012

By R. SITTAMPARAM | news@nst.com.my 0 comments

EXCEEDING TARGETS: 19 institutions leap over 500 places in national ranking

.Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin with some of the headmasters who are recipients of the ‘New Deal’ initiative aimed at rewarding school principals and head teachers based on the performance of their schools under the Government Transformation Programme’s Education National Key Result Areas in Kuala Lumpur yesterday. At left is Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong. Pic by Sairien Nafis

1 / 1

BANGI: PRINCIPALS, teachers and support staff of 124 secondary schools nationwide received about RM10 million under the government’s new deal for exceeding their set educational goals.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the schools selected for the awards made up 5.51 per cent of the country’s 2,248 secondary schools.

He said the figure had exceeded the target of between four and five per cent set for last year by the Education Ministry.

The “New Deal” initiative is aimed at rewarding school principals and head teachers based on the performances of their schools under the Government Transformation Programme’s Education National Key Result Areas.

Muhyiddin, who is also education minister, said he was happy to note that 19 of the selected schools had improved their positions by leaping 500 places or more in the national ranking.

“Two of these schools, Sekolah Menengah Agama Tarbiah Islamiah Pulau Pinang and Sekolah Menengah Agama Makarimul Akhlak Kedah, had risen 1,555 and 1,202 places.”

He said in the high enrolment schools category, Sekolah Menengah Seri Kembangan Selangor showed a huge improvement in its ranking by leaping 1,399 places.

Muhyiddin said it was also encouraging to note there were 35 government-assisted religious schools nominated under the New Deal award, with 18 selected compared with eight nominations and four selections in 2010.

He said the government’s efforts to bridge the rural-urban gap in education had been fruitful, judging from the total of 67 (54 per cent) rural schools selected for New Deal awards this year.

Of the total award money, RM930,000 will go to 124 principals, RM846,000 to the top five per cent or 470 top performing teachers, more than RM7 million for the remaining teachers and RM1.1 million for the selected schools’ support staff.

He said the government had on March 15 bestowed the New Deal awards worth RM15.6 million to 403 (5.27 per cent) of the country’s 7,648 primary schools.

“I hope those who succeed will share their experience with other schools,” Muhyiddin said.

Read more: 124 schools rewarded – General – New Straits Times http://www.nst.com.my/nation/general/124-schools-rewarded-1.99118#ixzz1z31xITir

RM10mil New Deal incentives awarded

Thursday June 28, 2012


BANGI: The Government has awarded close to RM10mil worth of New Deal incentives or Bai’ah to secondary school heads and teachers.

Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said 124 or 5.5% of secondary schools exceeded the performance targets set under the National Key Result Areas last year in order to qualify for the incentives, compared to 92 schools in 2010.

“We can be proud that the Government’s effort to narrow the performance gap between rural and urban schools has been successful, as 67 rural schools (54%) received the incentives out of the 124 schools chosen,” Muhyiddin said in his speech during the incentives presentation ceremony yesterday.

Muhyiddin, who is also Education Minister, said 19 schools moved up 500 places and above in the School Composite Score. SMK Seri Kembangan recorded the highest jump of 1,399 places, from 1,930 in 2010 to 531 last year.

Muhyiddin said schools would be evaluated under the Malaysian Education Quality Standard 2010 starting from next year.

Under the New Deal, school heads receive certificates and RM7,500 while 5% of the top teachers in the selected schools get RM1,800, with the other teachers receiving RM900 and support staff getting RM500.

Chinese schools deserve more for its contributions

Tuesday June 26, 2012


SIBU: The 14 Chinese private secondary schools in Sarawak incur a total deficit of about RM5mil in operational costs annually.

This huge burden had to be borne by the Chinese themselves, according to Wong Nai Siong Secondary School board chairman, Temenggong Vincent Lau.

He said they had repeatedly requested for a systematic annual allocation to these schools from the Government but had yet to get positive response .

“This is because the schools had chosen not to change their education system,” he said.

He pointed out that the schools had been playing a key role in national development all these years by nurturing a lot of talents in various fields though they were not in the country’s mainstream education system.

These institutions had also been providing an alternative secondary education apart from the government-aided schools, he said.

“Over the years we have faced so many problems and limitations in running our schools, but our insistence on providing education in our mother tongue has never faded,” he said.

To him, this showed that the Chinese would continue to promote their language wherever they live because they perceive that culture is the root of a race.

“The Chinese private schools are able to survive simply because the Chinese support them financially,” he said.

That said, he regretted that some quarters saw the schools as stumbling blocks to attaining racial unity though they have existed for over half a century.

He cited former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad as an example of an individual with such an opinion.

“He said permission given by the Government to different ethnic groups to set up their own schools have split the country’s youths.

“He also said that a completely uncommunicable community would be produced if the Government recognised Chinese education and the Unified Education Certificate (UEC).”

He, therefore, described Tun Mahathir’s contention that Chinese-medium schools were to be blamed for the disharmony among the people as too harsh and unfair.

“We disagree with that line of thought. We cannot look at things from a shallow point of view in a world globalised by the advancement of information-communication technology,” he said during Wong Nai Siong Secondary School’s 45th anniversary, Teachers Day, and thanksgiving dinner.

Free tuition a hit with poor pupils

Sunday June 24, 2012



Tuition classes may seem like torture to most students who dread the after-school drilling, but for some it is a privilege that they were never able to afford.

IT BEGAN with a realisation that students from low income families who were occasionally not able to afford food, would not be able to pay for tuition classes either.

In a real-life situation that happened in a school in Kuala Lumpur – a teacher came upon a student who was not eating during recess. When asked why, the student replied that he had used the money to buy workbooks.

When the teacher asked why he wasn’t joining the after-school tuition class that cost RM150 per year, the boy said: “My father said there is no money. My brother wants to get married in June.”

The scenario sparked an idea and the non-profit organisation Teach for the Needs (TFTN) was born. Founded by Zul Fikri Zamir Mohamad Munir and Asmidar Alias, the organisation believes that all students are able to succeed if given equal opportunities.

Through this programme, teachers register as TFTN ambassadors and, based on specific criteria (such as financial need, family situation and desire to succeed), choose about six students to attend tuition classes that these teachers will provide.

Still in its trial period, TFTN founder Zul said that they are working on evaluation tools to assess all the ambassadors around Malaysia.

Meet the need: Teachers can sign up as Teach for the Needs ambassadors and form a class of about six students for after-school tuition.

“Our benchmark is until the end of the Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR),” he said, adding that the aim is to have all their students pass every subject.

By mid-May, 20 teachers had already signed up with a total of 150 students from all over Malaysia, said Zul, adding that non-teachers can sign up under the non-teacher division.

“Our non-teacher division has initiated the Expansion Programme in Ipoh, Perak, called Projek Dahikmah.” He explained that the project involved students from the Institute of Teacher Education who taught UPSR students every weekend at the Dahikmah Orphanage in Gopeng.

Said Zul: “Our second Expansion Programme in Jengka, Pahang, called Projek Jengka 11, involves eight lecturers from Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Jengka who will give free tuition classes to almost 50 children in need from Jengka 11. They will come every Friday afternoon, from 3pm to 5pm, to Balai Raya Jengka 11.”

There is also the Projek Bukit Sekilau Expansion Programme in Kuantan, Pahang, modelled after Projek Dahikmah, where students from public universities around Kuantan give classes at the Bukit Sekilau Orphanage.

As co-founder, Zul said his personal experience being in the programme was great. “I have never imagined having an opportunity like this.”

He said many of his students are from poor families, some of whom wear the same clothes for more than three days.

“These kinds of students don’t get the same opportunities as their friends,” he said, adding that while they may not have had the opportunity to attend tuition classes it didn’t mean that they did not want to.

Said Zul: “I set my classes three days per week, each lasting about one hour to an hour and a half. Every day, these students would ask if they have a class with me and if I say that there isn’t, they will ask why. We have had more than 15 classes and there is no sign of them being tired of the classes.”

Far-reaching: A class in session at SK Bukit Mawang in Bintulu, Sarawak.

He added that all the students show up for every class. “The challenge is now on me. These students want to learn but they don’t get enough attention. I’ve learned that besides setting a benchmark for them, the most important thing is to let them learn on their own.”

Zul said that learning had become a “paranoid thing” for these students. “My job now is to change that and show them that learning is fun again,” he said.

Asked if students who needed help could get in touch with the organisation, Zul said: “Sure, why not?”

Besides the classes provided by TFTN, the organisation has its Side Projects to promote their cause. In March, they were able to raise about £200 (RM1,000) at a charity event at Warwick University in the United Kingdom.

“Our next Side Project is Ride on a Dream, a collaboration with the National Taiwan Sports University (NTSU),” said Zul. Thirteen cyclists from NTSU are going to cycle from Johor to Perlis from June 28 to July 16.

TFTN ambassador Izyan Izzaty, a teacher at SK Jugra (2), in Banting, Selangor, related her experience in the programme.

She began her account by stating how tiring being a teacher was. “The burden in the classroom is one thing, but the clerical work is another,” she said, adding that by the end of the day she would be both physically and mentally exhausted.

At one point, she was tempted to cancel her TFTN class, but she went anyway. When she arrived at the class, the students were waiting for her, and one of them said: “Why are you late? Come, let’s go to class!”

Izyan was surprised. “These students? Getting this excited to learn?”

During the class, she gave them a simple vocabulary exercise, which she thought they might find boring, but again, she was pleasantly surprised. The pupils were eager to do the work.

“But what made me feel good and bad at the same time was their determination to try, even the weakest one who could not read,” she recounted.

Malaysian hero: Zul Fikri posing with his students, whom he inspires and encourages to love education.

“That moment kicked me hard. I felt good for coming, and bad for thinking of neglecting them because I was too tired. My exhaustion was nothing compared to their joy of learning. Just by looking at their faces and efforts, my weariness was long forgotten,” she said.

Although Izyan may not have seen the results, she is happy with the effort the pupils have put in.

“I started everything from the basics. I made them work extra hard.” Even during recess at school, she would randomly call for them to answer questions. “Even though it may be slow, the progress is apparent. They come to school at night, which is already an effort,” she said.

She conceded that these students might be considered “problematic”. “They are neglected at home and misunderstood in class. They don’t need anybody to be mad at them anymore. They have enough resentment and stress. What they need is for people to stop and listen to them.”

Izyan said it was for this reason that she signed up for TFTN.

“Even though these students are not the clever ones, they have their own ways of making us satisfied,” she said, adding that she had “found the reason” for being a teacher.

For more information, visit 

Bantu pelajar kurang kemampuan

24 Jun 2012, Ahad


Raja Nong Chik menyampaikan Anugerah Sekolah Terbaik kategori sekolah menengah kepada Pengetua Sekolah Menengah Convent Sentul, Tan Tee Hwa, pada majlis penyampaian Anugerah Kecemerlangan dan Piala Pusingan Datuk Bandar 2011 kali ke-5 di Auditorium Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur, baru-baru ini.

PROJEK Bintang Cemerlang telah memberi kesan positif terhadap prestasi sekolah-sekolah terlibat melalui akademik, seni dan sukan yang direka untuk melahirkan pemimpin masa depan yang serba boleh, kata Menteri Wilayah Persekutuan dan Kesejahteraan Bandar, Datuk Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin.

Menurutnya, sejak 2008, Program kerjasama antara Sentul Raya Sdn. Bhd. (SRSB), Dewan Bandaraya Kuala Lumpur (DBKL), Kementerian Pelajaran dan Jabatan Pelajaran Wilayah Persekutuan Kuala Lumpur telah memberi manfaat kepada sekolah yang mengambil bahagian dan para pelajarnya.

“Projek Bintang Cemerlang berupaya merapatkan jurang perbezaan yang wujud dalam kalangan murid terlibat antaranya seperti tahap pendapatan keluarga yang rendah, persekitaran rumah yang tidak kondusif untuk belajar serta kekurangan kewangan keluarga untuk membiayai peralatan persekolahan anak-anak,” katanya pada majlis penyampaian Anugerah Kecemerlangan dan Piala Datuk Bandar 2011 di Kuala Lumpur, baru-baru ini.

Anugerah kali kelima ini adalah sebahagian daripada Projek Bintang Cemerlang, iaitu usaha pembaharuan bandar bagi membantu para pelajar dari kumpulan berpendapatan rendah.

Hadir sama Datuk Bandar Kuala Lumpur, Tan Sri Ahmad Fuad Ismail dan Pengarah Eksekutif SRSB, Datuk Yeoh Seok Kian.

Pada majlis itu, seramai 71 pelajar dipilih menerima Anugerah Pelajar Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), 69 bagi Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) dan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).

Manakala 94 pelajar lagi menerima Anugerah Sukan/Kokurikulum.

Di samping anugerah kecemerlangan kepada pelajar, sekolah-sekolah turut diberi pengiktirafan melalui Anugerah Sekolah Terbaik dengan hadiah wang tunai bernilai RM5,000, RM3,000 dan RM2,000 bagi sekolah yang paling cemerlang di tempat pertama, kedua dan ketiga.

Anugerah ini terbahagi kepada dua kategori iaitu sekolah rendah dan sekolah menengah.

Tiga pemenang terbaik sekolah rendah ialah Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Bangsar, SK La Salle Sentul 1 dan Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Cina (SJKC) Chi Man.

Manakala Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Convent Sentul, SMK Seri Permaisuri dan SMK Padang Tembak pula mengungguli kategori sekolah menengah.

Sementara itu, Seok Kian berkata, program ini juga meneraju beberapa aktiviti yang boleh mempertingkatkan motivasi pelajar untuk meraih kecemerlangan dalam pendidikan seperti; Kem Jati Diri – yang merupakan program bina upaya dan potensi diri pelajar yang terlibat; Seminar Peperiksaan UPSR, PMR dan SPM serta Kem Kesedaran Alam Sekitar Eco Drum Circle.

“Aktiviti-aktiviti yang digerakkan melalui Projek Bintang Cemerlang ini bermatlamat untuk membimbing pelajar yang berada dalam situasi serba kekurangan secara terbimbing menerusi penyediaan pelbagai peluang pendidikan melalui pengalaman melebihi ruang lingkup pembelajaran dalam bilik darjah,” ujarnya.

Tambahan RM3.6j perkasakan KAFA

11 Jun 2012, Isnin


JAMIL Khir Baharom (tengah) bersama wakil penerima dari Jabatan Agama Islam negeri dan guru KAFA di Permai Hotel, Kuala Terengganu, semalam. – UTUSAN/SHAIFUDIN MOHD. NOR

KUALA TERENGGANU 10 Jun – Kerajaan Pusat memperuntukkan kira-kira RM3.6 juta lagi kepada pihak berkuasa agama negeri-negeri bagi memperkasakan pengajaran dan pembelajaran Kelas al-Quran dan Fardu Ain (KAFA) di seluruh negara.

Menteri di Jabatan Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom berkata, tambahan peruntukan itu boleh digunakan bagi membolehkan pengendalian kursus dan latihan para guru, peralatan sokongan pengajaran seperti televisyen, komputer serta buku rujukan.

Katanya, seramai 31,810 tenaga guru di bawah penyelarasan Jabatan Kemajuan Islam Malaysia (Jakim) di 5,572 buah sekolah KAFA yang mengajar sejumlah 934,053 murid akan memperoleh manfaat itu.

“Kita berharap guru-guru KAFA dapat meningkatkan keberkesanan pengajaran dan mengayakan teknik-teknik pengajaran, bersesuaian dengan tuntutan semasa bagi memartabatkan lagi pendidikan Islam,” katanya.

Beliau berkata demikian kepada pemberita selepas merasmikan Kursus Pengajaran Iqra’ dan Majlis Penyerahan bantuan Kerajaan Persekutuan kepada kelas-kelas KAFA seluruh negara di sini hari ini.

Turut hadir, Pengerusi Jawatankuasa Agama dan Penerangan negeri, Khazan Che Mat dan Timbalan Ketua Pengarah Jakim (Dasar), Mohamad Nordin Ibrahim.

Kelantan menerima peruntukan tertinggi iaitu sebanyak RM448,497 melibatkan jumlah guru seramai 5,277 di 413 buah sekolah, diikuti Perak berjumlah RM376,215 merangkumi seramai 3,120 guru di 686 sekolah.

Menurut Jamil Khir, kerajaan akan memperkemaskan pendekatan KAFA dari semasa ke semasa dalam usaha mempertingkatkan pendidikan Islam kepada generasi muda merangkumi teknik pengajaran, peningkatan elaun guru serta menambah baik prasarana sekolah.

“Buat masa ini kira-kira 15 peratus guru-guru KAFA yang telah mengikuti kursus pengajaran sebenar seperti yang diadakan pada hari ini iaitu pengajaran Iqra’ manakala selebihnya dalam proses ke arah itu,” jelasnya.

Sementara itu, beliau turut memuji kerajaan negeri Terengganu yang menganjurkan program khatam al-Quran secara beramai-ramai dan ia merupakan usaha kerajaan negeri itu melahirkan lebih ramai generasi celik al-Quran.

Jamil Khir berkata, beliau akan meminta Jakim meneliti program berkenaan secara mendalam agar lebih banyak program seumpamanya dilaksanakan bagi menyediakan barisan pelapis pelajar yang mampu membaca al-Quran sebelum memasuki sekolah rendah.

Chinese independent school gets allocation for resource centre from PM

Wednesday May 30, 2012



BATU PAHAT: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has approved RM1mil allocation for a Chinese independent school here to build a resource centre.

Deputy Education minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, who presented the cheque to Bandar Penggaram Chinese High School recently, said the allocation was provided following a written request submitted by the school board of governors to the Premier during his official visit to Batu Pahat on April 7.

He said the school was established in 1940 and it has more than 3,000 students studying at the school located in Jalan Tanjung Labuh.

“The school needs support to build its resource centre as part of its effort to cultivate more outstanding students.

Generous contribution: Puad (third from left) presenting a RM1mil mock cheque to Bandar Penggaram Associated Chinese School chairman Tan Tai Kim (second left) during a dinner held in Batu Pahat.

“The approval of funds by the Prime Minister shows that he cares for all races and he keeps his promises,” he said during a check presentation ceremony attended by more than a thousand people.

Also present at the event was Penggaram assemblyman Datuk Koh Chee Chai, who represented MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Dr Mohd Puad, who is also Batu Pahat MP, said the Prime Minister approved the allocation just after a few days he received the letter from the school.

He added that he had allocated RM300,000 to the school for its infrastructure development during an event held in January.

The school is hoping to build a four-storey resource centre, estimated to cost RM8mil, to replace its traditional library.

The centre will be a multi-functional modern library that comprises a history museum, training room, reading room, seminar hall and others.

Bandar Penggaram Associated Chinese School chairman Tan Tai Kim said he hoped the members of the public would support the resources centre project, which is significant to the community.

“The centre will incorporate the green environment concept and the school is considering to open the centre to the public to pay back the support that they have shown,” he said and thanked Dr Mohd Puad and Najib for the allocations provided.

Tan added that the centre would also have a campus environment for students and he hoped the alumni would contribute by donating their historical documents and photographs to the history museum.

Syor tubuh dana pendidikan cadangan baik biayai pengajian pelajar

29 Mei 2012, Selasa


JABATAN Perkhidmatan Awam (JPA) merujuk kepada surat pembaca Ibu Prihatinbertajuk Syor Tubuh Dana Pendidikan bertarikh 7 Mei 2012 yang disiarkan di ruangan ini.

Syor serta pandangan supaya ditubuhkan dana pendidikan bagi pelajar yang tidak mendapat pembiayaan biasiswa tetapi berminat dan mampu berjaya untuk meneruskan pengajian, terutama dalam bidang kritikal, amatlah dihargai. Ia juga merupakan satu cadangan yang baik dalam memberi peluang untuk pelajar terus maju.

Justeru, kerajaan melalui agensi atau jabatan seperti JPA atau Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara), Yayasan Negeri serta lain-lain ada menyediakan kemudahan pembiayaan biasiswa atau pinjaman bagi membiayai pelajar berpotensi melanjutkan pengajian di peringkat ijazah pertama atau ijazah lanjutan sama ada di institusi pengajian tinggi (IPT) dalam negeri atau luar negara.

Bagaimanapun, pemberian kemudahan biasiswa atau pinjaman ini tertakluk kepada peruntukan kewangan serta kemampuan kerajaan selain mengambil kira fungsi agensi atau jabatan dalam menyediakan kemudahan tersebut.

Sebagai contoh, selain menyediakan penajaan biasiswa dalam dan luar negara, JPA turut menawarkan pembiayaan pinjaman kepada pelajar yang mengikuti pengajian peringkat ijazah pertama pelbagai bidang di luar negara di bawah program Skim Pinjaman Yuran Pengajian Luar Negara.

JPA juga merupakan agensi kerajaan yang menawarkan bilangan tempat yang paling banyak berbanding agensi atau jabatan lain. Justeru, program pinjaman kelolaan JPA sering menjadi tumpuan pelajar persendirian yang ingin mendapatkan penajaan dan tentunya saban tahun permohonan yang diterima jabatan ini melebihi bilangan tempat yang ditawarkan.

Jabatan ini sentiasa berusaha untuk menambah baik proses pemilihan dan penawaran bagi program pinjaman yang ditawarkan. Pemilihan adalah berdasarkan jumlah keseluruhan markah yang diperoleh pelajar mengikut kriteria (merit akademik, pendapatan keluarga dan bidang pengajian yang diikuti pelajar) yang ditetapkan.

Namun begitu, pelajar yang tidak ditawarkan pinjaman dalam permohonan terdahulu masih berpeluang untuk mengemukakan permohonan pada masa akan datang. Ini kerana permohonan bagi kemudahan pinjaman ini dibuka dua sesi setahun iaitu pada bulan Februari dan Julai setiap tahun.

Makluman berkaitan sesi akan datang boleh diperoleh melalui laman webhttp://esila.gov.my atau e-mel kepada penawaranlsp@jpa.gov.my jika terdapat sebarang pertanyaan lanjut.

Kerajaan tanggung 90 peratus kos pelajar di IPTA, PTPTN hanya untuk kos sara hidup

28 Mei 2012, Isnin


PETALING JAYA 28 Mei – Sebanyak 90 peratus kos pengajian di institusi pengajian tinggi awam (IPTA) sebenarnya ditanggung kerajaan, maka itu pinjaman Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN) boleh dianggap hanya untuk tanggung kos sara hidup pelajar.

Menteri Pengajian Tinggi, Datuk Seri Mohd. Khaled Nordin berkata, PTPTN hanya menanggung baki kos pengajian yang kecil, kira-kira 10 peratus daripada kos keseluruhan pengajian di IPTA.

“Tidak seperti negara-negara lain, kerajaan (Malaysia) bagi pinjaman kepada mahasiswa untuk menanggung kos sara hidup, setakat ini tidak ada mana-mana negara yang memberi pinjaman sara hidup kepada mahasiswa dengan jumlah yang tinggi,” katanya kepada pemberita selepas melancarkan projek pembangunan Pusat Kecemerlangan Industri Pemborongan dan Peruncitan (ICoE) di sini, hari ini.

Beliau berkata demikian ketika diminta mengulas mengenai pemansuhan satu peratus ujrah pinjaman PTPTN yang diutarakan Pengarah Strategi Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Mohd Rafizi Ramli dalam sesi pendebatan dengan Ketua Pemuda UMNO, Khairy Jamaluddin mengenai “Pemansuhan PTPTN & Hala Tuju Pendidikan Tinggi” yang disiarkan secara langsung oleh Astro Awani dan Bernama Radio24 , Selasa lalu. – BERNAMA

Minda Pengarang: Kenaikan elaun pelajar MARA diharap pertingkat kualiti tenaga mahir

Khamis , 24 Mei 2012


KESEDIAAN Ahli Lembaga Pengarah Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA) menaikkan kadar elaun latihan pelajar kemahiran di bawah seliaan institusi di bawah kendaliannya sudah tentu menggembirakan lebih 20,000 pelajar yang sedang mengikuti program berkenaan di seluruh negara. Tekanan kos sara hidup yang sudah menjadi fenomena global dan bukan saja dialami rakyat di negara ini, menimbulkan kesempitan kepada pelajar terbabit dalam usaha untuk menguruskan kehidupan seharian ketika di kampus mereka. Sebahagian besar elaun itu diputuskan pada 1980-an atau 1990-an dan sudah sampai masanya kini kadar itu dikaji semula selepas diguna pakai untuk satu tempoh yang lama, sesuai dengan peredaran zaman. Elaun berjumlah RM200, umpamanya mungkin hanya mencukupi pada era 80-an atau 90-an dan tidak sesuai lagi untuk menampung perbelanjaan pelajar sekarang, walaupun mereka tinggal di asrama. Justeru, langkah MARA menaikkan elaun pelajar yang mengikuti latihan kemahiran di bawah seliaannya itu adalah satu langkah tepat dan sememangnya wajar. Keputusan itu membabitkan semua pelajar yang sedang mengikuti latihan di Pusat Giat Mara dan Institut Kemahiran Mara (IKM). Kita bersetuju dengan Pengerusi MARA, Datuk Idris Jusoh bahawa kenaikan elaun itu adalah sejajar dengan usaha majlis berkenaan untuk memberikan khidmat terbaik kepada penuntutnya, terutama dalam hal kebajikan pelajar.

Sebanyak 22,800 tempat disediakan di Giat Mara dan 2,481 tempat di IKM untuk pelajar lepasan Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) tahun lalu bagi sesi bermula Julai depan. Apabila diluluskan oleh Kementerian Kewangan kelak, kadar elaun baru pelajar di Pusat Giat Mara dan IKM akan diselaraskan dengan jumlah bayaran yang diterima penuntut di Institut Latihan Perindustrian (ILP) dan Institut Kemahiran Belia Negara (IKBN). Pada masa ini, pelatih di Pusat Giat Mara menerima elaun RM200 sebulan, manakala penuntut IKM mendapat RM350. Mereka menjalani latihan kemahiran selama enam bulan hingga setahun dalam pelbagai bidang seperti masakan, bengkel, jahitan dan kimpalan. Seperti ditegaskan Pengerusi MARA, kenaikan elaun itu diharap dapat memberi manfaat kepada pelajar di kedua-dua institusi berkenaan untuk lebih berdaya saing dalam menghadapi cabaran masa kini. Kenaikan elaun itu bertujuan menambah baik keadaan di kolej yang diseliakan MARA selaras dengan penjenamaan semula institusi terbabit sebagai pusat kemahiran kelas pertama, sekali gus pengeluar utama tenaga mahir dan profesional di negara ini. Sebelum ini, IKM MARA dilihat sebagai institusi kelas kedua kepada pelajar yang gagal memasuki pusat pengajian tinggi dan politeknik. Kita berharap dengan kenaikan elaun itu, ia dapat mempertingkatkan imej institusi berkenaan dan dapat menampung kos sara hidup pelajar bagi tempoh beberapa tahun akan datang.

Pada masa ini, pelatih di Pusat Giat Mara menerima elaun RM200 sebulan, manakala penuntut IKM mendapat RM350. Mereka menjalani latihan kemahiran selama enam bulan hingga setahun dalam pelbagai bidang seperti masakan, bengkel, jahitan dan kimpalan.