Saiful Bahri Shariff Ghazali showing the notice from Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr Ismail 1 which indicates the extra charges to be paid by parents.
Fees hurting parents’ pockets
KUALA LUMPUR: The extra school charges that pupils have to pay is putting a hole in the pockets of their parents.
The charges come in three main packages — A, B and C — and each standard has a different charge including for the use of toilets in schools.
Education Ministry director-general Datuk Alimuddin Mohd Dom said the packages were compulsory but it was up to the schools to decide which was best suited for them, taking into account what the parents could afford to pay.
Package A is for schools where the majority of parents work in big business or are civil servants in the professional group while Package B is for schools where most of the parents are traders or civil servants in the support group.
Package C is for schools in remote areas where the majority of parents are petty traders, plantation workers, the self-employed and government workers.
The standard annual charges for primary schools for Package A is RM38.50, Package B is RM30.50 while Package C is RM23.50. For secondary schools, the annual charges are RM55.50, RM44.50 and RM33.50 respectively.
The money collected from all packages are used, among others, for examination papers, annual sports, insurance coverage, and Islamic and Moral activities.
On top of these compulsory charges, there is also the Parent-Teacher Association charges which is non-compulsory and is mainly to cover the maintenance of the school facilities.
The New Straits Times compared four schools in Kelantan, Terengganu, Johor and Kuala Lumpur and found that Sekolah Kebangsaan Taman Tun Dr Ismail 1 in Kuala Lumpur had the highest PTA charges.
At TTDI 1, the charge is RM145 per student, which includes school hall maintenance and computer usage.But in the other three schools, the charges were not much less, even a rural school in Pasir Gudang, Johor, charged RM108.90 for a Year One pupil and the amount includes providing a child with a picture dictionary, guide book, T-shirt and exercise books.
Saiful Bahri Shariff Ghazali, 41, an executive who has one Year Three daughter studying at TTDI 1, said that it was not appropriate to charge too high fees in primary schools.
“It is even higher than in secondary schools and I know that for a fact as I have two teenage daughters,” he said.
He said the school should consider single parents who had several schooling children as they might not be able to afford it.
“Although the school is in an urban area, not all parents can afford the fees. The school must be more transparent in giving more details and on how the money is spent, ” he added.
Another parent, Aidil Muh- tarami Ghazali, 33, a businessman, said he paid RM131 for PTA and other compulsory charges.
On top of this, he was also charged RM34.50 for the orientation session and RM28 for sports attire when his daughter enrolled in Year One in TTDI 1.
However, TTDI 1 headmistress Nik Nab Sulaiman said the PTA charges were agreed to at the EGM last November.
“Not all parents attended the meeting but the decision was based on the majority of those present,” she said.
She said for those who could not afford to pay, the amount could be waived or reduced.
Meanwhile, the National Council of Parent-Teacher Associations president Associate Professor Mohamad Ali Hasan said the Education Ministry should set a standard guideline on the charges that each PTA could impose.
“Right now as there is no guideline on this, parents and teachers are free to charge as they like. I would like to note here that such charges are not compulsory,” he said.
He said that this trend was especially prevalent in urban schools where teachers knew that the parents could afford the extra payment.
“In rural schools the charges for the PTA association is under control,” he said, adding that the charges were for a whole year and per family.