KULIM, Feb 5, 2016:

Transformation in the education sector had raised the socio-economic standard of all communities in the country, said Datuk Seri Najib Razak.

The Prime Minister said the government was committed to developing quality education as it was seen as the best way to uplift the people, irrespective of race.

The aim of the government to develop B40 households, or Malaysians in the bottom 40 per cent income group, through education was the best initiative, he said.

“I believe that through the concerted efforts of building schools, providing free education opportunities and enhancing the quality of education, we can transform not only the education sector but also advance the people as well,” he said when opening Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil (SJKT) Paya Besar, Lunas here today.

Kedah Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah, Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid, Health Minister and MIC president Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan were also present at the event.

Najib said that when the government introduced the National Transformation Programme, it saw the need to address the B40 problem.

“The poverty and hardcore poverty agenda is almost settled. The focus is now on relative poverty, where the people are in the bottom 40% of our society. Our focus is now on B40, besides the hardcore poor,” he said.

Najib said assistance such as the 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) and welfare aid were only for the time being, but education provided the opportunity for self-development.

He said quality education would produce professionals who could improve the socio-economic standard of the family.

Najib said his father and the country’s second prime minister, Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, introduced the New Economic Policy which was then touted as a poverty-eradication measure regardless of race.

“The eradication of poverty regardless of race was promised way back in the 1970s. So, the government has to do something to uplift from poverty anyone, regardless of race, who is poor,” he said.

He said the government would implement major plans to develop in stages all schools in all areas for the benefit of the people of all races.

Najib said that besides quality education in general, the government also wanted focus on Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) which was the basis for a developed country.

“If we want to be a developed nation, we must be strong in STEM. I urge you to give focus to this to raise the percentage of students taking up STEM,” he said.

The Prime Minister also said that he was proud to see the success of the government decision to recognise Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan Tamil as being part of the national education system.

“Approvals (for the construction of SJKT) have been increasing except for last year when they dropped slightly, but efforts are being taken to increase these in the future.

“Our strategy is for education to be a part of the efforts to develop the Indian community. I want to tell the Indian community that our promises are kept and are not empty promises. We have a plan for the Indian community; it’s working and we’re delivering,” he said.

At the event, Najib also announced that SJKT Paya Besar had been renamed SJKT KO Saranggabani in honour of the Tamil language activist of the 1960s.

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