This department is crucial for the nation's progress and yet based on the TV segment on the news on TV3 last night, a jewellery-bedecked official tried to explain that everyone else like school principals, PTAs and parents did not understand that only school fees need not be paid.
She went on to say that somehow the instructions got diluted and now they would give written instructions to prevent future misunderstanding.
This issue of reducing school fees only has been badly handled and one wonders how competent are the people in charge of the Education Ministry and the state education departments.
Although I do not have any more children attending school, I understand the plight of parents who have to bear the burden of extra fees collected by the schools.
You can read in today's papers that one school even started a scheme to collect 10sen for each toilet use outside of recess time. This is quite a unhealthy practice as keeping urine too long can damage one's health and imagine the poorer children who have to hold back as they cannot afford to lose their little pocket money this way.
While the Education Minister appears peeved that parents who have paid now want their monies back, basically the fault lies with the Ministry for not taking a closer look at the monies collected by the PTAs.
Maybe the proper lesson may be learned if ALL monies are returned to ALL parents and a fresh start made.
I find fees collected for building maintenance to be unacceptable for this should be borne by the Education Ministry for all public schools.
One other fee that is easy to reduce is the school magazine. Only one magazine should be offered to each family where more than one child is studying in the school and purchase of the magazine is optional.
I suggest PTAs should only be allowed to collect standard fees like:
RM30 for first child in school
RM25 for second child in same school
RM20 for third child in same school.
No discount after third child unless parent is active in the PTA.
Monies collected would be for standard activities and materials approved by the MoE.
Those who really cannot afford to pay should appeal to the Principal who would liaise with the PTA or even organise a fund donated by old boys and girls of the school for needy cases.