Friday, July 23, 2010

Give Tamil schools direct funding, Khalid urged

By Athi Shankar - Free Malaysia Today

SHAH ALAM: The Tamil Schools Parents' Association in Selangor is demanding that the RM4 million state government allocation for Tamil schools be channelled directly to individual schools’ Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and not via irrelevant third parties.

The association president S Murali (photo) said the 400-member strong association also wants Tamil school affairs to be handled by the state executive councillor in charge of education, and not by irrelevant excos.

He said the demands would be highlighted in an eight-point memorandum on the development of Tamil education in Selangor.

He said the memorandum will be submitted to Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim in the next few days.

Explaining their reasons, Murali said the PTAs were in a better position to manage the funds, which are state allocations under the Tamil Schools Development Fund, as they have first-hand information of their respective schools’ needs.

Selangor has 97 Tamil schools.

The Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government allocated some RM4 million in annual funds last year for development programmes to Tamil schools.

However, only RM2.4 million of the allotted sum was dispersed directly to schools.The remaining RM1.6 million was channelled to three non-governmental organisations, namely the Education Welfare Research Foundation (EWRF), Tamil Foundation and Child Information Learning and Development Centre.

It’s learnt that the money was allotted to the three NGOs to carry out Tamil education development programme in the state.

For this year, the state government recently approved similar funds to be dispersed among Tamil schools and NGOs.

Unhappy with exco's work

Murali said the association was against the state government’s decision to divert part of the funds for Tamil schools to the NGOs.

He suggested instead that the state government allot separate funding for these NGOs while dispersing the whole RM4 million directly to the schools.

“We don’t understand why the money for Tamil schools is being diverted to these NGOs. Such diversion of funds is not happening in allocations for Chinese and religious schools,” Murali told FMT.

The memorandum will demand that Khalid's government walk his talk on multiracial governance by assigning only the state executive councillor in charge of education, higher education and human capital development portfolios, currently Halimah Ali, to handle Tamil school affairs.

Murali said the association members were strongly against the current arrangement in which another state executive councillor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, who is in charge of health, plantation workers, poverty and compassionate government, is made responsible for Tamil school affairs.

Several PTA leaders criticised Khalid for emulating typical Umno-MIC politics by giving the mandate to an irrelevant Jeyakumar to distribute allocations for Tamil schools.

It’s learnt that Jeyakumar, formerly a dentist by profession, has close links with the three NGOs receiving the annual funds.

The state government cyber information portal, SelangorKini online, has disclosed that “Xavier is active in EWRF.”

Tamil school PTAs in Selangor have also expressed their dismay with the manner Jeyakumar has been handling the Tamil schools' issue.

“Although Tamil school affair is not his business, he is trying to promote himself as the Indian leader in the Pakatan government and state PKR," said several PTA leaders, who spoke to FMT in anonymity for fear of Jeyakumar's backlash.

They fear Jeyakumar would sabotage funds to their schools if he knew their identities.

Jeyakumar was not available for comment despite numerous calls made and text messages sent to him over the past three days.

Free land sought

The memorandum would also demand the state government allocate free land to all landless Tamil schools in Selangor and change land title ownership to the schools, which are already sitting on government land.

Murali said his association would demand that the Pakatan government include all Tamil schools into the state's mainstream national school development programme.

“In short, we want the Pakatan state government to be different from BN,” said Murali.

Copies of the memorandum are expected to be distributed to all executive councillors and elected representatives in Selangor and, the state and national PKR leaders as well.