KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 (NNN-BERNAMA) — Empowering the nation’s education digitally is hoped to be the main focus in the 2021 Budget, to be tabled this Friday, for the sustainability and continuity of the education system, especially in the face of the COVID-19 challenges.
President of the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) Aminuddin Awang said the hope is based on the country’s experience in dealing with the pandemic, where the teaching and learning (PdP) process continues outside classrooms or lecture rooms, proving that the virtual method is important and necessary.
“Therefore, NUTP hopes that there will be a huge allocation to enhance digital education, such as providing special gadgets for virtual learning to poor students, rebate of RM1,000 to teachers to buy gadgets or laptops, specifically for virtual teaching, as well as allocation to improve the teachers’ skills for virtual teaching,” he said when contacted by Bernama.
Ainuddin said at the same time, schools would also require funds to upgrade and maintain their existing computer labs which are now neglected as there is no maintenance allocation.
“Apart from that, there is also a need for a special allocation of RM5,000 a year to schools for minor repairs, special incentive for teachers with master’s and Ph.D degrees, as well as creating a DG56 grade for teachers who have been at DG54 for five years,” he added.
President of the National Parents and Teachers Association (PIBGN) Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hassan, who shared the same opinion, said an appropriate allocation should be made for infrastructure facilities, especially those related to internet speed and coverage, particularly in rural and remote areas, so that online education can be upgraded comprehensively.
“There is also a need for an aid scheme for purchase of gadgets and accessories needed for online PdP, incentive for teachers and assistant teachers who are experts on online PdP, setting up of Internet centres for online PdP, as well as reference materials to facilitate virtual teaching and learning,” he said.
He also hoped that the distribution of allocations in the 2021 Budget would be like in previous years, which gave priority to the education sector, with the allocation to be channeled for necessary purposes, like for school aid, books and food supplement to be given only poor students and those in the B40 or M40.
“In dealing with crisis situations, such as COVID-19, we hope that there will be special allocation to schools, like for periodic sanitation of the school building, mandatory medical check up, including dental and COVID-19 vaccine injection for teachers and students.
“Allocation for maintenance of infrastructure such as for buildings and laboratories that are over 20 years-old, for building of more hostels in the rural areas, special incentive for special education teachers, STEM and English teachers, as well as for teachers on sabbatical leave,” he added.
NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said Malaysia was progressing and to maintain the momentum, the country always has to be one step ahead from other countries, including in the education sector.
“Hence, a solid investment in education will certainly yield lucrative results even under the new norm,” he added.