JOHOR BARU: The Johor government has identified education as one of the main drives to transform the state into an economic powerhouse in the region.
Self-employed Abdul Rahim A. Rahman, 46, who has four children aged between eight and 20, said the quality of education in the state had improved over the last five years.
“The state government is making things possible for locally born children to get education, from the preschool level to the tertiary level.
“Providing scholarships and study loans without having to pay the interest has been a great help for parents who want to send their children to universities,” he said.
Welder Jamal Zainuddin, 27, said he was not able to enrol in university due to his Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) results, but that did not dampen his spirit to create a better future for himself.
He enrolled at Institute Kemahiran Mara (IKM) here, where he pursued Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET).
“I now have a steady job with a good income in Pasir Gudang. In the near future, I plan to take a master welder course to enhance my knowledge and meet the demand for higher skills workers,” Jamal said.
State Health, Environment, Education and Information Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the state government had introduced the Jauhar Kids fund, under which it would open up an education savings fund for children born in Johor with an allocation of RM500,000.
Each baby, he added, would receive RM50 to kick-start their savings account as the state government did not want the future generation to be burdened with study loans once they completed their education.
Meanwhile, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that with the state moving forward through economic development, the education sector here was also going through changes to keep up with the needs of the 21st century and beyond.
“In our manifesto dubbed Johor Hi-5, there are five key points including skill, talent and knowledge development, with more than 230 pledges for Johoreans in the next five years,” he said.
He pointed out that there were currently 1,182 primary and secondary schools in Johor, with plans to build 19 more schools within the next five years.
Mohamed Khaled said this included five Chinese schools and one Tamil school by 2023, as well as the creation of a salary ladder scheme for Islamic preschool teachers.
“We also want to make sure that by 2023, a total of 794 primary and secondary schools in Johor will carry out the School Transformation Program 2025 (TS2025),” he added.
He noted that the state government introduced the Kenangan Dato Onn Scholarship in 1984, which had benefited 46,381 students as of 2017, with a total expenditure of RM21.4mil.
Mohamed Khaled said the state government planned to loosen application rules for the scholarship to target between 400 and 500 scholarship recipients each year, as well as widening the undergraduate education fund at the PhD level.
The state government would also broaden the education loan without interest programme to allow more Johor-born students to enjoy such benefits, he added.
“We will also continue with the Indian community inclusive programme through the Sultanah Rogayah Foundation by increasing its welfare and education fund.
“Yayasan Sultanah Fatimah will also see an increased allocation to help poor people in the Chinese community get education,” he added.
Mohamed Khaled also said that in line with growing demand for higher skills workers, the state government planned to increase the number of students receiving the Johor Skills Training Fund incentive from 2,500 to 5,000 in the next five years.
He said the state would also introduce the One Family One Skills initiative and provide incentive for coding class and multimedia skills, with the fund being channelled through the local authorities foundation with a target of 10,000 trainees in 10 years’ time.
Mohamed Khaled said the government was also looking at TVET, with a total of RM5mil being allocated towards the Johor Skills Training Fund.
“Through the Johor Skills Agenda introduced in 2016, the state government developed Skills Johor with an allocation of RM100,000 to become the training centre in the TVET field. It can accommodate up to 20,000 trainees.
“Education plays an important role in achieving our aspiration to make Johor the new economic powerhouse not only in Malaysia, but in the region,” he added.
Mohamed Khaled said all the measures taken by the state government were aimed at ensuring a bright future for the next generation.