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STRANGELY, every time an application is submitted for a Year One child to enter school, the Education Ministry requires parents to provide information on their salaries.

On top of that, the school hands out another form that requires parents to fill in the salaries earned per annum.

The reason is that the parent-teacher association needs the information to identify children who need financial aid. This is the lamest excuse I have ever heard.

I have stopped providing the figures although the system says it is a “required field” that needs to be completed. In such a situation, I fill in either RM50 a month, or if I am mischievous, I say I earn RM999,999 a year.

So far, no one has approached me to either offer any financial assistance or ask for the reasons behind the figures quoted.

Unless the ministry can give a plausible answer, I have to assume that the person who came up with the idea of getting this personal data had his own hidden agenda.

There is also the issue of confidentiality. The form is passed by your child to the teacher, who in turn passes it to the administrative personnel.

All those who handle the form will have access to the information.

I urge the Education director-general to look into this and other weaknesses in the system, which may be used by “cartels” to make money out of wage-earning parents.

A directive has to be issued to schools to ensure that they no longer carry out such surveys under the pretext of that PTAs need the information for their charity initiatives.

I found out that in some vernacular primary schools, the principals and teachers issued flyers which contained a long list of reading materials and the note: “Must buy. Teacher wants to use in class.”

The ministry needs to be firm and stop such practices in schools. It is time to get our education system right again instead of allowing people with vested interests to exploit parents.

Stephen Ng , Petaling Jaya

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