Compromising on education means sacrificing the nation’s future

Compromising on education means sacrificing the nation’s future

COMMENT As a parent, I always put my children before myself. If we’re walking on the sidewalk, I walk on the side closest to the road and have them on the inside. If I’m running tight on budget in a particular month, I forego my expensive boutique coffee so they get a weekend at the movies.

That’s why I found it particularly relatable when Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak tabled the 2017 Budget last week in Parliament. He made many analogies that involved family life and about being good parents.

Najib mentioned that in the current economic situation (which is bad!), it doesn’t mean that parents can’t bring their children out for food and toys. They still can. Just go to cheaper eateries (like nasi lemak anak dara and nasi kandar vanggey) and buy less expensive toys.

I agree. Unfortunately, something else happened during the tabling of the national budget that made me doubt the sincerity of the concept of sacrifice the prime minister was trying to pass on to the people and convince them of the prudent allocation of the country’s money.

The biggest casualty of the national budget this time around has to be education. Public universities in the country have all see their budgets slashed on average of around 30 percent, which should be unacceptable since that is the area that is most needed of protection.

If anything were to happen to me as a parent, the first thing I want to ensure is that the education of my two daughters will be guaranteed and not affected. That is the only assurance I have that my kids will be able to survive on their own.

Hence, education in the country should also be given paramount importance. No matter how bad the economic situation in the country is, education should be given priority. Education is the future of the country and it will determine whether the country will survive.

If we look back at the budget allocation, a lot of handouts were given such as cash incentives, tax relief, incentives for government servants and even an increase in Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia (BR1M) and what not. I guess that what you call an election budget, or maybe not. But that’s not the point.

The point is that the allocations should be done on the ‘most needed’ basis. And education should be at the top of the priority list. There are no two ways about it. Killing education is like killing our future.

Market forces

The reason made for cutting the budget for public universities is so that these institutions can start thinking more entrepreneurial-like and become more sustainable and independent from the government. That may sound like a good idea but it isn’t.

Education is a basic human need and opening it up to market forces is not the right thing to do. Educational institutions need to focus on increasing knowledge, intellect and the progress of the nation. They should not have to shift focus on obtaining revenue instead.

What will the slash in budget mean? Would they have to scale back on their research and development programmes? Would they have to start downsizing and retrench staff and faculty members? Or even worse, would they have to start imposing high student fees?

Public educational institutions should always be supported by government because it is their responsibility to do so. Personally, I wouldn’t mind paying additional tax if it would mean that there would be free (or at least cheap) education and equal opportunity for all.

Compromising on education means sacrificing the nation’s future
27 Oct 2016 – malaysiakini


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