PORT DICKSON, November 15 – Former Deputy Minister of Education, Datuk P. Kamalanathan, has pledged to take over Barisan Nasional (BN) education initiatives that were abandoned by the Pakatan Harapan (PH) administrations ) and Perikatan National (PN).
Among others, Kamalanathan said the relocation of Tamil schools, especially to rural areas, needs immediate attention.
According to the MIC central working committee member, many Tamil schools need to be relocated as they are on plantations and difficult to access for students mainly due to urbanization.
“Parents who lived on the plantations moved and came to urban areas, but the schools remain.
“(At the time) BN had undertaken some initiatives to relocate the schools. The money was approved in late 2017 or early 2018.
“During my handover to the then Deputy Minister of Education, Teo Nie Ching (under the administration of the PH), I explained to him that the funds were available and that it was necessary to please please write so that they can be sent to you.
“Unfortunately this was not reviewed at all, so not all of the funds were used,” he said. malaysian mail during an interview at the Umno state headquarters here.
More allocations for kindergartens
In another initiative, Kamalanathan said, as part of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025 (Pelan Pembangunan Pendidikan Malaysia), BN had planned to establish more preschools in Tamil schools.
“Nursery schools will later increase the number of pupils in primary school.
“Then Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak gave us a special allocation of RM10 million to build 50 preschool classrooms and we completed it in 2018.
“The plan was that RM10 million would be allocated for pre-school development in Tamil schools every year for the next five years, so that by the end of the fifth year, all Tamil schools in the country would have at least one kindergarten each. .
“Unfortunately, this plan stopped in 2018, so there were no more allocations for nursery schools,” he said.
During Kamalanathan’s tenure as Deputy Minister of Education, his portfolios included welfare of Indian middle schools, while then Minister of Education Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid was in charge of national schools. MCA’s Datuk Chong Sin Woon, who was the second vice minister of education, was given the portfolio of Chinese middle schools.
On education issues in Negri Sembilan, Kamalanathan, who will contest the parliamentary seat of Port Dickson, also claimed that allocations for state schools were not distributed fairly, to the detriment of schools Tamils.
“In Negri Sembilan, there are over 14 Tamil schools in Port Dickson. The total amount I allocated as Deputy Minister of Education from 2013 to 2018 was around RM2.5 million for 14 schools.
“I was informed that the Negri Sembilan State Government, I think even in the last year (they have 61 schools), the total allocation for Tamil schools was around RM500,000 at 600,000 RM – for all of Negri Sembilan.
“If you do the math it comes down to an average of RM6,000-7,000 per school. Is it right ? he said, questioning the lack of funds channeled to Tamil schools in Port Dickson.
In describing fair allocations, Kamalanathan gave the example of when he was deputy education minister, funds were allocated to all schools, whether the parent-teacher association or the school board pro- governmental or not.
“We made sure we had funds for everyone because the funds were for children and for infrastructure maintenance.
“It didn’t matter to us or who (got the funds). Even if they weren’t our supporters, what mattered most was that we had to get those funds through,” he added.
He also pointed out that over the past four years while PH and PN have been in power, little has been done for schools that need help.
“When we handed over to the government, we didn’t see much effort in these areas.
“There were a lot of schools that needed development funds, more classrooms, science labs and tech labs. These were not taken care of,” he said.
Even when PN came on the scene, Kamalanathan said there was no improvement.
He claimed that this was due to the incompatible ideals deriving from the different parties that were in government.
“It’s different to have a government entirely under the administration of the BN compared to a coalition government.
“When it comes to a coalition government, the process is different. Their priorities may not be ours, and the coalition was formed because we didn’t want the government dissolved at that time,” he said, referring to the “Sheraton Move.”
The term ‘Sheraton Move’ originated in 2020 when political defections caused the collapse of the PH government.
The collapse led to the PN coming to power unelected, before the coalition itself was forced to yield last year to the BN which was defeated in the 14th general election.
School is a safe space
Other concerns, according to Kamalanathan, were the drop in student enrollment after the PH administration took over in 2018.
“In 2017, the BN government approved 2,200 places for Indian students to continue enrolment. This is an increase from 1,500 in 2012 and in 2017 to 2,200.
“This increase of 700 enrollment places means that you will be able to enroll 700 more students in public universities,” he said, recalling the government’s goal of admitting at least 7% Indian students in an institution. higher education audience.
However, the following year when PH took over, Kamalanathan said the number had dropped to 1,000.
“Most B40 students have been affected. It’s very shocking. The 2,200 matriculation places, most of the applicants are B40 kids because they can’t get private education, so the BN government education route is the most constructive and fair thing for them and about 1,200 students couldn’t get it at that time,” he said.
Kamalanathan said that if he were to return to the Ministry of Education, the aim would be to make school buildings “livable”.
He said students should go to school without fear and parents should be able to send their children there without fear.
“A school should be a safe place for education. A school complex should be a place where the child is excited to go to school the next day and feels sad to leave at the end of the day.
“That’s the kind of environment we want to build, and I will work towards that,” he said.
As part of the education plan, Kamalanathan said the BN government has started talks to digitize education.
The process then stated that the target should be achieved by 2025.
When Covid-19 hit the country in 2020, he said the pandemic showed how important it was for education to be digitized.
“What Covid-19 has taught us is that we have accelerated digitization. So learning at home has become a culture now. Students need technology and gadgets.
“These are part of the education plan that has been designed,” he said.
One of the steps taken towards the digitization of education was 1BestariNet.
However, it was abandoned entirely when the PH administration took over in 2018.
“1BestariNet was totally politicized. It was a great plan for Malaysia to embark on digitalization. I tell you why. One of the first people I met when I became Deputy Minister of Education was the Minister of Education of Finland.
“We all know that Finnish education is one of the top 10 in the world. Their minister therefore came to Kuala Lumpur just to understand how our 1BestariNet system worked.
“How did we set it up? Because we went to a very brave front. We wanted to implement this in all 10,000 schools. Nowhere in the world would do that, and normally they do a pilot project first,” he said.
Kamalanathan further explained that technology is a means to ensure equality in education for all students in the country.
“We went massively because the only thing that can give equality in education is technology.
“We cannot have the same infrastructure development in a school in an urban area compared to rural or inland schools, so we have set up 1BestariNet 4G online education to be put across the country.
“In some areas, where there is no means of transport, only the river, there will be a school there. So we need them to have a quality education, the same education; for example, a fifth-grade child in a school in Kuala Lumpur must have the same level in a school, say, in Bario, Sarawak. It’s equality,” he said.
Unfortunately, he said, it was very politicized.
“People tend to believe information that is half-truth. But it no longer exists. We stopped him, and so far he hasn’t started anything.
“So I think if this had continued, Malaysia would have been a frontrunner in technology and the advancement of education.
“It was very unfortunate. Of course, when we were in the ministry, we would have continued, but the moment we lost the 2018 election, the new government stopped her,” he said.
In November 2014, the Auditor General’s 2013 Report (Round 3) found that internet connection to 4,176 sites had been delayed by just over a year from the date of execution of 1BestariNet, with no extension of delay or late payment penalty imposed.
More than half of the 501 schools tested, or 58%, said that 1BestariNet access did not cover the entire school area.
The audit also revealed that the 1BestariNet project, which was awarded to YTL Communications, failed to provide satisfactory bandwidth connectivity to 89.1% of the 46 schools tested.
Kamalanathan will run against Negri Sembilan Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Aminuddin Harun, who took over from incumbent MP Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who will instead face former Perak mentri besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu in Tambun.
The Port Dickson seat saw a by-election in 2018 where its then-incumbent resigned to make way for Anwar who was returning to the political scene.
For GE15, Port Dickson will see a five-way contest which will include Rafiei Mustapha of Perikatan Nasional, independent candidate Rani Kulup and Ahmad Idham Ahmad Nadzri of Gerakan Tanah Air.