KUALA LUMPUR: Budget 2021 is vital to the education sector so that all the planning and direction of the Ministry of Education (MOE) for next year will not be affected.

Under the budget, the education sector continues to receive the largest allocation of RM50.4 billion or 15.6 per cent of the total government expenditure, which includes aspects of student health in schools, infrastructure repair, learning facilities and the empowerment of the Technical Education and Vocational Training (TVET) and special education.

National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Aminuddin Awang said that if Budget 2021 was not approved, it would disrupt the continuity and momentum of the country’s education system.

“We are worried that all the processes, especially the planned improvement and maintenance of schools, will not be implemented according to schedule. Not only that, it will also affect low-income families from the B40 group, such as through the Supplementary Food Programme (RMT), which involves many students from that group,” he told Bernama.

Malaysian Muslim Teachers’ Association (i-Guru) president Mohd Azizee Hasan felt the same, saying that rejecting the budget would affect the teaching and learning process (PdP) online.

He said this was because Budget 2021, among others, focused on increasing Internet access through the National Digital Infrastructure Plan (Jendela) initiative, which aims to ensure connectivity of a total of 430 schools nationwide, and the RM1.5 billion Jaringan Prihatin, which will benefit eight million from the B40 group.

“This assistance will reduce their financial burden in obtaining Internet facilities. They will each receive RM180 to be used for Internet subscription expenses or to cover part of the cost of purchasing a new mobile phone,’ he said.

These initiatives will, thus, increase Internet access as well as ensure students do not miss out on the learning process.

A similar view was expressed by Malaysian Sign Language and Deaf Studies Association (MyBIM) deputy president Amir Hamidi Abd Manan, who described the failure to continue with Budget 2021 would have a big impact on the special education sector.

“The RM45 million allocation is a huge amount for the special education sector. Without it, the ministry will have difficulty in carrying out special education empowerment work as scheduled,” he said.

According to him, there were various plans which could be improved to strengthen the special education sector, such as further raising the skills of Malaysian Sign Language (BIM) among special education teachers, bridging the digital divide and improving TV Pendidikan with the services of certified BIM interpreters.

Meanwhile, National Association of Skilled Workers (PKPB) secretary-general Mohammad Rizan Hassan said rejecting Budget 2021 would affect the process of producing skilled manpower for the country’s industrial needs as public and private training providers would not be able to spend.

He said the industry needed skilled manpower urgently and failure to empower the TVET would cause industries to think many times about continuing their operations in this country.

“Currently, many public and private training providers are implementing the National Economic Recovery Plan (PENJANA) initiative through the Human Resources Development Fund (HRDF) and Social Security Organisation (Socso), which fully rely on government funds for training in skills development as well as employment opportunities for the affected people, including youths.

“In fact, Budget 2021 also allocates up to RM6 billion for TVET across many ministries, such as the National Dual Training System (SLDN), National Apprenticeship Scheme (SPN) and Skills Development and Fund Corporation (PTPK), which is believed to be able to attract youths,” he said. — Bernama