The Rural and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob (front row, centre) pose for a group photo with recipients of Baktidesa education aid in Bera. Pic by MUHAMMAD ASYRAF SAWAL

BERA: The Rural and Regional Development Ministry is looking into allowing parents earning between RM1,500 and RM2,000 to be eligible to apply for the Baktidesa education aid.

Its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the present requirement for parents to be earning RM1,000 before they could apply for the aid is no longer in line with reality today.

"The ministry's policy committee will study the proposal to increase the income requirement to between RM1,500 and RM2,000. Nowadays, not many people earn below RM1,000, even in rural areas.

"When we increase the income requirement for eligibility, there would be more recipients (of the Baktidesa aid)," he told a press conference after presenting Baktidesa education aid here today.

Around 175 students from high schools and institutions of higher learning (IPT) received aid at the event.

Ismail Sabri, who is also Bera member of parliament, said school students and those enrolled in Malaysian Skills Certificates (SKM) programmes would receive RM500 aid, while IPT students would receive RM1,000 in aid.

"The aid is to help them continue their studies and lighten the burden of their parents in rural areas who earn less than RM1,000.

"We need to also give assistance and pocket money of RM5,000, RM10,000 and RM12,000 for SKM students of Levels One to Three at University College of Agroscience Malaysia (UCAM)," he said.

He said the ministry has allocated around RM17 million, through the Baktidesa trust account, to cover natural disaster aid and programmes for service to the people from 2005 until last year.

"This aid is the result of contributions from the ministry's agencies like Felcra Bhd, Risda (Rubber Industry Smallholders Development Authority), Majlis Amanah Rakyat (MARA), Central Terengganu Development Authority (KETENGAH), Southern Kelantan Development Authority (KESEDAR), and Southeast Johor Development Authority (KEJORA).

"Some of the profits earned by them (agencies) are contributed to help the rural community via the Baktidesa programme (that seeks to improve the lives of people in rural areas)," he said.

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