Budget 2024: Education experts raise concerns over quality of teaching and learning

13 Oct 2023 10:25pm
Pix for illustration purpose only. - Photo by 123RF
Pix for illustration purpose only. - Photo by 123RF

SHAH ALAM - While Budget 2024, presented by Finance Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim marks significant progress in the education sector, there are concerns about its impact on the quality of teaching and learning.

Teach For Malaysia CEO Chan Soon Seng said that a single budget can only address some educational issues comprehensively, and there are no clear signs of a holistic transformation in education.

"There will never be a single budget that can resolve all the outstanding issues in education, as education issues are mostly long-term investments.

"Although there are some positive investments, it is primarily a business-as-usual budget, lacking strong indications of significant investments for educational transformation," he added.

Chan praised the allocation of RM100 million to address learning loss caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, even though he acknowledged that it might not be sufficient.

He considered this allocation a significant step in the right direction as it acknowledges the long-term effects students are grappling with.

While infrastructure development is a positive aspect, he stressed the need for efficient allocation of resources.

"There are some essential infrastructure investments in special education needs, which will make our education system more inclusive.

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"The investments in early childhood education infrastructure are also vital, considering many children still lack access to quality early childhood education," he added.

He urged efficient use of the budget to minimise waste and improve effectiveness.

Chan expressed a desire to see a more substantial investment in digitalising education and highlighted that transforming education should be a priority over infrastructure.

"I would have liked to see a more significant investment in digitalising education, especially in the Education Ministry.

"While infrastructure investment is important, the key to improving education quality lies in investing in our educators and continuous professional development," he said.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia Chairperson Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim welcomed the cross-ministerial Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) Special Committee, suggesting it should be headed by the Academy of Sciences Malaysia (ASM).

She noted that ASM urgently requires 20,000 scientists, 10,000 engineers and technologists, 190,000 engineers, scientists, and applied scientists, 280,000 engineers, doctors, architects, and ICT implementers, as well as 500,000 skilled workers ranging from diplomas to PhDs.

Azimah stressed the need for autonomy in schools to enhance the Dual Language Programme (DLP) to boost STEM and nurture the digital, innovation, and artificial intelligence (AI) talent pool.

"We would like to know in detail the plans to boost STEM and the setting up of the task force and the allocation that would be given," she said.

She hoped to see the Education Ministry elevate the English Language Teaching Centre (ELTC), which oversees the DLP, from a unit to a department, granting it the prominence and authority needed to expand the use of English as the language of technology to attract foreign direct investments in the future.