BY: PAKATAN HARAPAN
It was reported that for the last two years, University Malaya has been badly affected by the budget cuts in the 2016 followed by 2017 Budgets that were presented by Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak, causing the public higher-education institution (IPT) to be neglected with several lecturers forced to leave.
Several days ago, we were again shocked by Berita Harian’s front-page news on March 6, on claims by the Malaysian Academic Association Congress (MAAC) that almost 6,000 lecturers including professors were asked to leave and their contracts were terminated due to financial constraints.
Nevertheless, the Higher Education Ministry (KPT) denied the number and corrected it to around 2,000 people, including those whose contracts were terminated and those who retired.
- Nevertheless, for us it remains a sad development, as clearly Najib Razak’s administration fails to regulate the nation’s finances to be channelled accordingly to the ministries. There should be more permanent jobs rather than contractual positions being offered in higher-education institutions.
- To us, all these are happening due to the cut in provisions for education in the federal budget which has produced a big and bad impact. This also affects the future of graduates in these universities. Graduates who are the backbone of the nation’s future will face shortage of lecturers with calibre and experience to educate them.
- In fact this will also affect the economic situation when unemployment is expected to increase. This increase in unemployment is worrying. It is difficult to accept that a group of smart and intelligent people in the country who conduct research and development (R&D) are now jobless.
Now, there are only 32,000 lecturers in public universities compared to 35,000 recorded earlier.
- Additionally, in total, 37,699 Malaysians were reported to be retrenched last year. Meanwhile the unemployed are now estimated to be 515,200 people compared to 490,300 the year before. This is really worrying when the nation’s economy is on a downturn followed by the increasing cost of living.
- The government’s decision to drastically cut the provision for IPT should also not have been done abruptly. Clearly, many IPT are now struggling with financial issues which eventually will fall back on the graduates who will face shortage of lecturers, shortfall in quality of teaching and increase in education cost. Will the fees then increase in the near future as a result of these issues?
- Unfortunately the government is always seen as nonchalant, blaming the world crude oil price increase as the cause of budget cuts, especially in the field of education. But for us, this reason doesn’t hold water as the nation’s finance can be at its best if managed well without corruption. In fact, the question also arises as to where does the GST money goes to?
- Therefore, to resolve this issue, we urge the government to reinstate the provision for IPT and create more permanent jobs rather than contractual positions, and not to cut universities’ budgets while on the other hand expanding provisions for nonrelevant programmes.
YB Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad
People’s Justice Party
YB Zairil Khir Johari
Democratic Action Party
Parti Amanah Negara