Tuesday, 18 October 2016

BR1M: Friend or foe?

Ever since the launch of 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) in 2012, its allocation has expanded from RM2.6b (2012) to RM5.9b (2016). It began as a single payment of RM500 and RM250 to eligible households and single individuals respectively. 2016 sees the government doling out amounts of RM1,050, RM1,000, RM800 and RM400 to different categories of eligible recipients.

The need for BR1M cannot be denied. It targets households that earn less than RM4,000 per month and singe individuals that earn less than RM2,000 per month. Increased costs of living have left the M40 group feeling the pinch, what more of those in the B40 group? However, these cash payments can only go so far by making the recipients feel slightly less poorer for a few weeks at a stretch. It temporarily alleviates the symptoms but it does not address the root cause of the existence of the B40 group and people remaining in there.

Why do people still remain in poverty?
Education, or the lack thereof a proper one.

Education should be the catalyst for the rise above poverty. 

Source: http://acecareer.com.au/Education.html
Theoretically, by providing education or relevant skills to students, it allows the government to build a workforce that it wishes to achieve for its country. I am assuming that the governments requires a high-skill workforce that complements our country's natural resources. At the individual level, a diploma/degree in hand will open doors for most to get, at the very least, a white-collar job that pays a steady income. An education ideally should provide a certain level of knowledge, wisdom and maturity that cannot be obtained by years of merely living.

However, this would require re-assessing the public school system to improve its standards and revamping the scholarship system to be based on need and merit. It should not be based on who knows who and favours granted or owed.

This would presumably involve a significant amount of investment in teachers and education facilities. However, with the recent slash in allocations to institutes of higher education and scholarship funding in the Budget 2016, the arduous road to eradicating poverty just got a little bit harder.

BR1M may offer temporary relief but to truly break the cycle of poverty, we have to take a hard look of the mindset that is currently governing the education system, and change that. The impact of cash handouts may be quicker to see but just as quick to disappear.

The effects of investing in education are not as immediate as it generally involves a huge outflow of money at the outset. However, the government should be able to reap what it sows (through taxes and productivity) when the student graduates with the necessary skills and joins the workforce.

Maybe long-term investment in education does not sound as impressive as long-term mega development projects and cash handouts but it is just as necessary, if not, more important. Maybe the necessary people should take a good long look at themselves and ask, "Am I doing it for me or for the people?".

The answer, however, may be laughably depressing.

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