I refer to the statement made recently by the Higher Education Minister, Idris Jusoh, regarding free education.
According to reports, Idris Jusoh had challenged Selangor to implement free education for Selangor-owned university UNISEL.
This statement is woefully misleading as the Minister would rather focus on gaining political points rather than addressing the facts.
It should be noted here that Pakatan Harapan’s promise to provide free and equitable education is upon winning over the federal government.
Education, including higher education is placed under the Federal list in the Federal Constitution.
In addition, Selangor’s budget is merely RM3 billion compared to the RM260 billion Federal budget, even though we contribute more than 20% of the national Gross Domestic Product.
This is down to tax policy which does not provide a fair tax return distribution among states. Unlike in Germany for example, its Federal Financial Equalisation system sees a more efficient and equitable tax distribution that is almost half of various taxes including corporate tax, income tax and value-added tax.
As such if the Minister feels supportive of our effort to provide free education, why not get the cabinet to revisit the national tax distribution among states.
At the moment, with a budget of RM3.4 billion Selangor is performing wonders with its distribution of state wealth through various initiatives under its Inisiatif Peduli Rakyat programme which now holds about 40 initiatives.
These initiatives ranges from free water, free bus, free WiFi to primary healthcare subsidy scheme (Peduli Sihat) and pre-school subsidy for lower income families (Tunas).
UNISEL’s fee structure is already at an affordable rate compared to other private universities, and under IPR, Selangor also provides education support through Hadiah IPT, Tabung Biasiswa Selangorku, Peduli Siswa, interest-free convertible loan and Brain Bank, a doctorate level scholarship at the world’s top universities.
UNISEL has also introduced a dermasiswa program at the foundation level whereby studies at the foundation level is free if the student continues his or her degree at UNISEL.
The Minister should therefore stick to the facts, focus on uplifting our current derisory state of education and stop playing politics.
After years of governing the country, Barisan Nasional has only caused Malaysia to go backwards and it is time we put a stop to it.
Do not risk the future of our children under a government that does not care about the people’s well-being.