Over 20,000 TVET students stranded as PTPK funds shrink

Nurul Izzah acknowledged the delay in payments and said that she will raise the matter in the coming parliamentary sitting. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali
Nurul Izzah acknowledged the delay in payments and said that she will raise the matter in the coming parliamentary sitting. — Picture by Azinuddin Ghazali

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — More than 20,000 students from private Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) colleges may be forced to discontinue their studies due to inadequate allocations to the Skills Development Fund Corp (PTPK).

According the Federation of JPK Accredited Centres (FeMAC), these students are largely from the Bottom 40th percentile (B40) and have no other means to pay for their courses without the PTPK loans.

“Over the last four years, the Ministry of Human Resources has been consistently reducing the allocation of funds for PTPK with the total amount of funds being cut having been reduced by a staggering 60 percent.

 “While the total allocation for 2018 is supposed to have been RM175 million for both public and private technical and vocational education training centres, many have yet to see any funding being released to these centres over the last nine months,” it said in a statement here today.

Due to the delay, some private TVET centres have been forced to initiate severe cost cutting measures including retrenching lecturers, raising unemployment rates for TVET educators.

Private TVET centres can train between 40,000 and 60,000 students annually. However, the funding from PTPK for 2018 was only enough for 11,000 students to remain in education, leaving the others in a lurch.

FeMAC said it has tried repeatedly over the course of the year to resolve this issue by contacting the relevant authorities but to no avail.

“All efforts by these private centres to reach out to the Ministry of Human Resources for an update on the delayed release of funds have been ignored further upsetting all stakeholders involved as the lives of thousands are being disrupted,” they said.

This crisis comes at a time when the importance of TVET and skills education training is being highlighted as the way forward for the nation to achieve the national agenda of having a 35 per cent skilled workforce by the year 2020.

“There are 1.5 million jobs projected to be created by 2020. Sixty per cent of these would require TVET related skills. The government has also decreed to reduce the number of foreign workers in the country. The need for TVET graduates to enter their respective industries appears greater than ever,” said FeMac.

In an immediate response, national TVET task force chairman Nurul Izzah Anwar acknowledged the delay in payments and said that she will raise the matter in the coming parliamentary sitting.

She said although there is an ongoing corruption case against the former political secretary of the Human Resources Ministry involving some RM40 million of PTPK’s funds since last year, this was no excuse to freeze the disbursement of loans to deserving applicants.

“It is worrying that a significant number of PTPK applicants were not approved in the last eight to 12 months due to a lack of funds. It’s as if these students were cast aside despite their intentions to make a better future for themselves,” she said.

From 2012 to 2017, the number of approved loans ranged between 21,448 and 29,769, or just a fraction of the applications that spanned from 235,067 to 263,919.

“The ministry has to find a way to help the many applicants,” she said, adding that 82 per cent of TVET students were from the B40 group.

The PTPK received RM 25 million in Budget 2018, or less than what it needs to lend to all the applicants.

The Permatang Pauh MP stressed the need to increase fund for TVET loans.

“The Finance Ministry needs to prioritise TVET because it’s part of the country’s economic direction.

“I also promise to continue to fight for more funding in the coming October Parliamentary session which will debate the Budget for next year.”

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