From The Star 3 Jan 2007:
BANDAR JENGKA (Pahang): The Government is mulling over an idea to standardise additional fees in national schools, which now range from RM23 to RM100 per student.
However, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said that any move to streamline the additional fees would need to be done fairly or it might lead to an increase in the compulsory fees.
The compulsory fees at the moment were RM4.50 per pupil in primary schools and RM9 per student in secondary schools.
These fees are the same for all schools, Hishammuddin told reporters at the launch of the Umno Youth mass sacrifice of 110 heads of cattle at Felda Jengka 11 near here yesterday.
When their children start school today, parents only needed to pay the compulsory fees, he said.
Standardize school fees? How about this idea: Remove all school fees for everyone and subsidize healthy school meals for students, thus encouraging poor families to send their children to school. While you’re at it, completely revamp the whole education system to actually produce smart and useful citizens.
Anne told me about how some students from poorer families also have to pay upwards of RM100 in school fees. That doesn’t include uniforms and materials. The parents would scrape and scrounge to gather enough to pay by the end of the school year. We felt upset over the difficulties they faced.
And I felt particularly upset over what seems to be a blindingly simple solution, that won’t ever get implemented. We are not a poor nation. We just don’t know how to handle our wealth.
I’m upset over the fact that all the tax money we’ve subsidized PROTON over the years can more than cover everyone’s school fees.
That we can spend billions of oil money on the Twin Towers, Putrajaya, space missions and other ‘gain face’ projects… But can’t spare it for the really needy, the grassroots.
And that whenever feelings of hope and altruism and ambition to change the ways things are rises in my heart… I realize that it would be like one man pushing against a mountain. And even as I push that chosen mountain, other mountains in the range gang up to hold it steady.
How can mere me influence any meaningful change in the deeply rooted status quo? Isn’t this what the Opposition has been trying to do for, I don’t know, decades?
And so the idealistic feelings in me get squished. Back to the grind, eke out a living and and try to get by day to day… Content to be just another fish in the unchanging, featureless sea?