KUCHING: The National Higher Education Fund Corporation’s (PTPTN) proposal to list the living allowances of trainee teachers as a loan commencing with the 2018 intake is setting alarm bells, particularly in Sarawak, which is striving to increase the number of local-born teachers.
PKR vice chairman Boniface Willy Tumek, who is also PKR Mas Gading branch chairman, said the cost of living allowance is presently given to trainee teachers as non-repayable allowance.
“PKR Sarawak is greatly disappointed by the proposal
which was announced by Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid on July 18. It is clear to all that this is a major obstacle in the path of all who aspire to become teachers.
“A good number of trainees in teachers’ training institutes (IPG) throughout the country come from middle and low-income families and the non-repayable living allowance they are receiving now greatly reduces the burden of the trainees’ parents.
“It is therefore very puzzling why the government is even considering such a move when all government IPG-trained teachers are bonded and required to serve in government schools for at least five years,” he said through a press statement yesterday.
Boniface was commenting on Mahdzir’s recent statement that the Education Ministry was
still in talks with PTPTN on listing the cost of living allowance of trainee teachers as a loan for next year’s intake.
He said that teachers everywhere were acknowledged as early frontline providers of knowledge and wisdom and the basic source of education.
“They mould the manpower required for nation-building. Indeed, no other personality can have an influence more profound on any mind in the formative years than teachers. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the government to ensure that teachers are not deprived of what they need to become the nation-builders that they are.
“If we place this proposal next to the recent decision to allow the state government to bear the cost of repairing dilapidated schools in Sarawak, we are prompted to ask this question: ‘Is the nation’s treasury in such a dire state that the ministry of education is no longer capable of shouldering this very crucial component in the training of our teachers?
“If such is the case, how are we to expect that other government services in Sarawak, like medical and health services, will have the requisite funding to ensure that the needs of Sarawakians are sufficiently met?
“Certainly, the timely completion of major infrastructural projects of the federal government in the state, like the Pan Borneo Highway, will come under a lot of doubts.”
With these in mind, Boniface said PKR Mas Gading branch demands that the government scrapped the PTPTN’s proposal to list as loan the cost of living allowances given to trainee teachers, thereby reassuring Malaysians that the nation’s treasury is still in a healthy state and the government is still capable of looking after the welfare of the nation.