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Education: Indian NGOs clear the air over RM1.6-million allocation

Contributed by Anonymous on Tuesday, July 27 @ 08:51:49 CDT

Tamil Schools
FMT, July 27 2010

By Patrick Lee

PETALING JAYA: After being accused of fund mismanagement, representatives from three NGOs today cleared the air over the RM1.6-million allocation from the Selangor government for the Tamil Schools Programme (TSP).


FMT had earlier reported that the Selangor government allocated RM4 million for Tamil schools annually, of which RM2.4 million was given directly to Tamil schools while the remaining RM1.6 million was distributed for the TSP through three NGOs.

The three are the Tamil Foundation (TF), Educational Welfare and Research Foundation (EWRF) and Child Information Learning Development Centre (CHILD).

The allocation through the NGOs was questioned by the Tamil Schools' Parent's Association of Selangor (TSPAS), with its president S Murali claiming that allocation for the TSP was being mismanaged.

Murali had said that the money should have gone directly to the Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) of Tamil schools.

When asked why the Selangor government chose to disperse the money to the NGOs instead of to PTAs, TSP coordinator K Arumugam said: “We have the experience."

EWRF special adviser S Pasupathi chipped in: “We are not ordinary NGOs. Most Tamil schools know about us. The EWRF has been around for 34 years. We've been doing these (programmess) for a long time.” According to Arumugam, the three NGOs first approached the Selangor government with a proposal for “developing soft skills” for Tamil schools in mid-2008. They were then given the RM1.6 million in 2009.

“When it comes to Tamil schools, there are two aspects: Physical and student (development),” said Pasupathi, adding that TSP was in a better position to take care of them.

'We don't rely solely on state funds'

Asked to elaborate, Pasupathi said that the services included English proficiency classes for students and transport allowances for volunteer teachers.

EWRF is also involved in the printing of a five-times-a-year trilingual magazine known as Elanthalir, which is provided free for upper primary Tamil school pupils.

Pasupathi said the three NGOs did not depend on the state money alone. “What we (EWRF) get from the state amounts to 25% to 30% (of EWRF's total budget),” he said.

The EWRF adviser told FMT that his organisation had an annual budget of RM2 million.

“We get (most of) our money from the (Indian) community, and we have partners such as Hong Leong Bank,” he added.

Pasupathi also confirmed Selangor state exco Xavier Jeyakumar's affiliation with the EWRF.

Murali had earlier claimed that Xavier was “very close with the EWRF” and that “he had no business with the NGOs”.

“Jeyakumar was an EWRF member for a long time,” Pasupathi said. “He was part of our Klang branch, and has contributed much to the NGO for more than 10 years.”

He did not see Jeyakumar's involvement with the organisation as something amiss as many in the state administration have NGO backgrounds.

“But what about Murali? What credentials does he have? EWRF has been around for many years, while TSPAS has been around for two,” he shot back.

When asked about Murali's gripe with the TSP, Arumugam said: "With these programmes in Tamil schools, NGOs are powerful. If the NGOs are removed, then it would be easier for him to take control.”

When asked if he had any evidence to support his claims that TSP was mismanaging funds, Murali said: “No, but I have the audit report of these NGOs that might shed some light.”

*******

Give Tamil schools direct funding, Khalid urged

 
/* */
By Athi Shankar

SHAH ALAM: The Tamil Schools Parents' Association in Selangor is demanding that the RM4 million state government allocation for Tamil schools be channelled directly to individual schools’ Parent-Teacher Associations (PTAs) and not via irrelevant third parties. The association president S Murali (photo) said the 400-member strong association also wants Tamil school affairs to be handled by the state executive councillor in charge of education, and not by irrelevant excos.

He said the demands would be highlighted in an eight-point memorandum on the development of Tamil education in Selangor.

He said the memorandum will be submitted to Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim in the next few days.

Explaining their reasons, Murali said the PTAs were in a better position to manage the funds, which are state allocations under the Tamil Schools Development Fund, as they have first-hand information of their respective schools’ needs.

Selangor has 97 Tamil schools.

The Pakatan Rakyat Selangor government allocated some RM4 million in annual funds last year for development programmes to Tamil schools.

However, only RM2.4 million of the allotted sum was dispersed directly to schools.The remaining RM1.6 million was channelled to three non-governmental organisations, namely the Education Welfare Research Foundation (EWRF), Tamil Foundation and Child Information Learning and Development Centre.

It’s learnt that the money was allotted to the three NGOs to carry out Tamil education development programme in the state.

For this year, the state government recently approved similar funds to be dispersed among Tamil schools and NGOs.

Unhappy with exco's work

Murali said the association was against the state government’s decision to divert part of the funds for Tamil schools to the NGOs.

He suggested instead that the state government allot separate funding for these NGOs while dispersing the whole RM4 million directly to the schools.

“We don’t understand why the money for Tamil schools is being diverted to these NGOs. Such diversion of funds is not happening in allocations for Chinese and religious schools,” Murali told FMT.

The memorandum will demand that Khalid's government walk his talk on multiracial governance by assigning only the state executive councillor in charge of education, higher education and human capital development portfolios, currently Halimah Ali, to handle Tamil school affairs.

Murali said the association members were strongly against the current arrangement in which another state executive councillor Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, who is in charge of health, plantation workers, poverty and compassionate government, is made responsible for Tamil school affairs.

Several PTA leaders criticised Khalid for emulating typical Umno-MIC politics by giving the mandate to an irrelevant Jeyakumar to distribute allocations for Tamil schools.

It’s learnt that Jeyakumar, formerly a dentist by profession, has close links with the three NGOs receiving the annual funds.

The state government cyber information portal, SelangorKini online, has disclosed that “Xavier is active in EWRF.”

Tamil school PTAs in Selangor have also expressed their dismay with the manner Jeyakumar has been handling the Tamil schools' issue.

“Although Tamil school affair is not his business, he is trying to promote himself as the Indian leader in the Pakatan government and state PKR," said several PTA leaders, who spoke to FMT in anonymity for fear of Jeyakumar's backlash.

They fear Jeyakumar would sabotage funds to their schools if he knew their identities.

Jeyakumar was not available for comment despite numerous calls made and text messages sent to him over the past three days.

Free land sought

The memorandum would also demand the state government allocate free land to all landless Tamil schools in Selangor and change land title ownership to the schools, which are already sitting on government land.

Murali said his association would demand that the Pakatan government include all Tamil schools into the state's mainstream national school development programme.

“In short, we want the Pakatan state government to be different from BN,” said Murali.

Copies of the memorandum are expected to be distributed to all executive councillors and elected representatives in Selangor and, the state and national PKR leaders as well.

 
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