Media statement: To help children with special needs from poor families, the government should simplify the rules around setting up care centres

December 11th, 2014 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

To help children with special needs from poor families, the government should simplify the rules around setting up care centres

To download the paper please click here

KUALA LUMPUR, 11 December 2014 – The government, currently through the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, should simplify and incentivise the establishment of affordable early intervention special needs centres that cater to poor families.

A new Policy Ideas paper released today by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) entitled “Setting Up of Special Needs Centres: A focus on early intervention centres for the underprivileged”, by Senior Researcher at IDEAS, Tamanna Patel, provides a case study of the experiences of establishing the IDEAS Autism Centre (IAC), a child care centre which provides full-day care services, education and therapy in order to prepare children with autism for mainstream school.

The research paper looks at the two main challenges of setting up and running such a centre: the registration process and the financial sustainability. The paper tells how the procedures of setting up a centre are too cumbersome and bureaucratic. Legislation and requirements do not focus enough on children with disabilities. As such, the government needs to create a more straightforward and transparent process.

IDEAS’ experience shows that operators have to meet many requirements stipulated in the Child Care Centre Act 1984 (Act 308) such as care-taker to child ratios and ensure all permissions from three other authorities were secured for the premise. At first glance, while these requirements seem appropriate for the safety of the children, much of the focus is actually just on the technical requirements rather than the quality of services delivered for the children and the improvements in their behaviour and skill levels.

Additionally, the age limit stipulated by the Child care Centre Act is not suitable when dealing with children with special needs. The Act limits the age to just four years old, whereas IDEAS’ experience shows that a child with special needs may require support until they nine years old, if not longer, before they can go into a primary school. While the IAC were lucky to be granted an exemption, it highlights the need for the laws to be re-examined.

There was also an issue with government financial support. When the IAC applied for a grant from the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, the processes were found to be arbitrary and unclear. The paper suggests that such arbitrary decision making practices should be stopped and the government must institute a more transparent and consistent funding processes.

The paper also suggests that, in order to help underprivileged families with a special child, the government should introduce a mechanism, similar a “school voucher” scheme. This will create not only more incentives for the creation of more similar centres, but parents will also receive an opportunity to afford the quality care, education and therapy that their children so desperately need.

“Having spoken to a few other centres that provide early intervention and special needs services, I found that many faced similar issues to the IAC and a whole host of other issues as well. For one it was an issue of not being given the appropriate advice by Jabatan Kebajikan Masyarakat (JKM) officers on registration. For another it was the inability to register with JKM even after several attempts were made, limiting their access to any financial assistance provided for special needs centres. Basically, there are many rules that prevent many from setting up centres and registering with JKM regardless of the fact that they may already be providing or want to provide much needed services for the underprivileged. JKM should remove such barriers so more centres are able to easily provide early intervention services. JKM should also focus on quality of care and therapy these children get not just the type of building they are situated in,” reflected Tamanna Patel.

Commenting on the release of the paper, IDEAS chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan says “While we appreciate that the government has the well-being of children in mind, they seem to be missing out on the bigger picture. The rules and regulations seem to have become hurdles. There is also the bigger issues of multiple jurisdictions within government, with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community as well as the Ministry of Education both having jurisdictions on pre-school education simply by calling the providers different names. They even have different rules to channel funds. This is unnecessary bureaucracy that should be simplified for the sake of our special children.”

To download the paper please click here

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Tamanna Patel is a Senior Researcher with the Education Unit at IDEAS.

IDEAS is Malaysia’s first think-tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We are an independent not-for-profit organisation. As a cross-partisan think tank, we work across the political spectrum. Our purpose is to advance market-based principles, and we are not bound by party politics, race or religion. Our mission is to improve the level of understanding and acceptance of public policies based on the principles of rule of law, limited government, free markets and free individuals. For more information, please visit http://ideas.org.my/

# # #

Media enquiries:

IDEAS (+60-3) 6201 8896/ 8897

Tamanna Patel, tamanna@ideas.org.my

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Setting up special needs centres: A focus on early intervention centres for the underprivileged

December 9th, 2014 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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This paper looks at the gap in provision of early childhood care, education and therapy services for those with special needs with a specific focus on our experiences with the IDEAS Autism Centre (IAC), a full day child care centre for children with autism which includes education and therapy as well. The need for early intervention centres catering to parents from low-income households is not being adequately met by government or even private sector players. Based on the experiences of the IAC we believe that there are two main challenges to providing affordable early intervention services for low income households in Malaysia:

1) The financial sustainability – covering the high costs per student for early intervention programmes.
2) The registration process – with the Social Welfare Department or JKM. The paper asserts that such centres need to operate as social enterprises to sustain the quality of service they provide while reaching children who most need these services. In light of this, this paper explores some potential avenues of sustainable funding that may create more a feasible model for early intervention care, education and therapy centres. The registration process with the Social Welfare Department (JKM) can be cumbersome and confusing. In this paper we take a look at these requirements and if they are necessary to ensuring quality and affordable early intervention centres or not. Sharing the experiences of IAC in addressing the two challenges above we hope will be valuable to others who are currently providing or looking to provide similar services. Additionally, we hope there will be a shift in policies to encourage more entrants to the market for provision of affordable early intervention care, education and therapy.

To view the FAQ on this paper please click here

Untuk memuat turun Soalan-soalan lazim berkenaan laporan ini, sila klik di sini

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Public Procurement in FTAs : The Challenges for Malaysia

December 4th, 2014 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Political Economy and Governance, Publications No Responses
PolicyNo16-2-page-001

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The paper examines opportunities and challenges for Malaysia if it accedes to a Free Trade Agreement (FTA) that has public procurement provisions. It examines the key provisions in the procurement chapter of an FTA, and the core principles that shape them, viz. non-discrimination, convergence, and transparency. The paper considers what suppliers must do to take full advantage of the opportunities offered by access to a much larger procurement market, and the consequent benefits to each partner country.

The benefits to Malaysia from the inclusion of procurement in an FTA are then identified, including the increased chances for Malaysian businesses to win contracts in foreign procurement markets, the resultant boost to exports, and improved procurement practices as a result of convergence and transparency.

The challenges that arise as a result of the necessity to modify the protection given to Bumiputera businesses and local small and medium enterprises are also discussed. It is argued that the impact may be mitigated by higher value thresholds, by exemptions for certain types of goods, procuring entities and businesses, and by transitional concessions, the most important of which are off-sets.

To view the FAQ on this paper, please click here 

 

 

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School choice and school vouchers programmes: Why do they succeed and why do they fail – lessons for Malaysia?

November 17th, 2014 by admin Categories: Education, Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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This paper offers an exploration of the benefit of school choice and how school voucher programmes are a core feature of successfully bringing education choice to all segments of society. School vouchers are flexible arrangements for education funding, where the funding follows the student. By looking at three different school voucher programmes, the Milwaukee Parental Choice Programme in the US state of Wisconsin, and the nationwide voucher programmes in Sweden and the Netherlands, we seek to find a benchmark framework for what regulations and infrastructure need to be in place in order for a programme to be successfully implemented.

We find that there are four key conditions necessary for a school voucher programme to be successfully implemented:

1. Managerial autonomy for public and private schools, in order to allow schools to thrive under competition.

2. Education policy should be centrally decided and the government must ensure quality control.

3. Allow for-profit schools, under the condition of long-term commitment from all operators.

4. Grade inflation must be controlled to ensure fair competition and quality control.

It is not within the scope of this paper to outline what school voucher reform in Malaysia should look like. In order to design such a programme further research is needed. However, it is hoped that this paper can serve as a benchmark for future research on the subject.

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Morality and the Rule of Law: Inspirations from Raja Aziz Addruse

October 17th, 2014 by admin Categories: Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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Inspirations from Raja Aziz Addruse: Morality and the Rule of Law’ was a lecture by Tunku ‘Abidin Muhriz delivered at the 3rd Raja Aziz Addruse Memorial Lecture, a lecture series organized by the Malaysian Bar Council. In this lecture, Tunku ‘Abidin relays a personal account of Raja Aziz Addruse, a prominent and influential advocate who helped shaped Malaysia’s legal framework and justice system. The lecture recounts Raja Aziz’s unwavering efforts to protect the values and virtues of the Malaysian Constitution, including the fundamental rights of individuals. It reminds the audience of Raja Aziz’s stance of the prevalence of the constitution over parliament, and his many contributions in scrutinising topical issues through his convictions on safeguarding democracy and the realisation of a better Malaysia. Whilst stressing on current issues with the abuse of powers by institutions, and the lack of emphasis on the rule of law and morality, Tunku ‘Abidin ends the lecture noting that a contestation still exists between those who advocate the basic structure doctrine and those who advocate parliamentary supremacy, and that we may draw inspiration from Raja Aziz’s legacy in confronting the difficult questions of our current afflictions.

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CALL FOR PAPERS: IDEAS’ Giving Voice to the Poor: Malaysian Education and Low Income Households

August 28th, 2014 by admin Categories: Education, Publications One Response

The Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) is a Malaysian think tank dedicated to promoting market-based solutions to public policy challenges. We publish research papers to shape the opinions of policy makers, parliament members, relevant government officials and public in general.

IDEAS is inviting submissions for papers from academics, think tanks, researchers, postgraduate students interested in the area of education especially among the poorest households in Malaysia. Papers are encouraged to utilise the data that IDEAS collected from our nationwide education survey of 1,200 low-income households, which we have made publicly available on our website. Writers are given the liberty to write on any aspects that you are interested in, which the data can help to substantiate.

The questionnaire was targeted at parents and sought to do the following:

  1. To understand the condition of their children’s education, including:

                   a)       educational expenses in relation to their income;

                   b)      awareness and views of different government assistance on education;

                   c)       quality of their children’s school;

                   d)      access to educational institutions; and

                   e)       ability to influence decision-making in education.

  1. To identify their children’s educational needs, including the relative importance for various needs.
  2. To explore their aspiration for their children, as well as towards the education system.
  3. To gauge their awareness and knowledge on the current education policy.

The full dataset is available at http://ideas.org.my/?p=8108 along with our first paper on the survey which covers the following five main findings:

  1. Information Gap: There is an information gap between government education plans and the information received by the poor. What can be done to improve this and why is it important? What policy recommendations can be made?
  2. Accessibility to Education Aid: Government education aid is not reaching the needy. What is going wrong and how can this be improved upon or is this an opportunity for private sector to step in. What policy recommendations can be made?
  3. Dropouts: Lack of interest in school continues to drive students to drop out at an early age. What can be done about this? Do we have enough information on the issue of dropouts to make policy recommendations?
  4.  Education Expenses: Education related expenses continue to be a burden for parents from low-income households. What areas of school-related expenses are particularly burdensome? What can be done to push students to continue going to school in spite of these challenges? What policy recommendations can be made?
  5. School Accessibility: Accessibility to schools continues to limit choice for parents. Is this limiting choice for the parents in terms of the school they would like to send their child to? Is this an opportunity for private sector to step in? What policy recommendations can be made?

Our second paper published on this survey was on dropouts which can be found at http://ideas.org.my/?p=8613. However, we are looking to publish papers on the remaining issues. We welcome and look forward to all submissions.

HOW TO SUBMIT

Please submit a concept note and latest resume to tamanna@ideas.org.my by Friday 5 September 2014. The concept note should be between 800-1000 words in length, and effectively communicate preliminary ideas for the final paper and its methodology. Please do have a browse through the dataset and associated questionnaire and keep this in mind when submitting a concept note.  Accepted authors will be notified by 12 September 2014.

The full paper should be submitted to tamanna@ideas.org.my by 30 October 2014. Submissions should be between 4000-6000 words in length.

PUBLISH WITH IDEAS

Accepted papers will undergo a peer-review process coordinated and monitored by IDEAS.

IDEAS will provide an honorarium for the writer, at an agreed-upon rate.

Published papers will be made accessible to the public through our website as part of the Policy Ideas publications, and distributed to policy makers, members of Parliament, and relevant government officials.

IDEAS will also provide opportunities for authors to present their findings to groups of relevant stakeholders. Additionally we will provide a platform for the presentation of important research findings in our monthly press statements, regularly picked up by print and broadcast media, nationally, regionally, and internationally. Social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, will also be used for further promotion. For examples of past publications, please visit http://ideas.org.my/?cat=5.

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Dropping out of school in Malaysia: What we know and what needs to be done

August 4th, 2014 by admin Categories: Education, Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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In 2013, IDEAS conducted a survey on education, also known as Giving Voice to the Poor, to uncover the needs and aspirations of parents from low-income households around Malaysia. The survey covered over 1,200 respondents of which 150 respondents had at least one child who had dropped out of school. This paper takes a closer look at this group of 150 in an attempt to further understand issues that parents perceive as the reasons for a child dropping out. These reasons include a lack of interest for school, the inability to pay for education-related expenses, and poor academic performance among others. Involvement of parents in a child’s education related activities at home, frequency of interaction of parents with school teachers, management and PTA, and parents’ opinions of education including technical and vocational education pathways are also considered. While data from the Ministry of Education show that the dropout rates are low in Malaysia, the absolute number of students leaving the system before completing a full secondary education reaches into the thousands. A majority of these students are from low-income households, hindering their ability to improve upon their socioeconomic status.

This paper hopes to add to the existing literature on dropouts in Malaysia and provide a more contemporary look at the issue and proposes that the issue of dropouts in the country deserves a reexamination in the form of a more comprehensive
study.

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Generating best value for taxpayers’ money: How to improve transparency and accountability in Malaysia’s public contracting system

July 2nd, 2014 by admin Categories: Governance, Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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The Malaysian government has embarked on initiatives to improve transparency in government procurement since 2010. More information about procurement activities are now available for the public. However there is room for improvement. The paper proposes the following five steps to improve this initiative.

First, incorporate new rules to the current procurement process/cycle to improve its transparency and accountability including the mandatory requirement to publish a procurement plan, allowing contractors to review the results, and publish more detailed information on awarded contracts.

Second, facilitate greater public involvement in ensuring the transparency and accountability of government contracting, while strengthening investigation processes and punitive actions.

Third, streamline various govenment electronic platforms that currently exist has to create a credible, efficient and transparent procurement system.

Fourth, enhance the professionalism and integrity of procurement officers.

Last but not least, ensure public private partnership projects (PPPs) follow the same transparency rules as government contracting.

The recommendations are the result of research and dialogue activities carried out by the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) over nine months between July 2013 to March 2014. This paper elaborates upon these five recommendations in greater detail.

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From average to excellent: What constitute a successful school transformation

June 9th, 2014 by admin Categories: Education, Other Publications, Publications No Responses
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In 2012, IDEAS embarked on a research to assess a successful school transformation programme. This project was funded by Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD). The school assessed was SMK Ahmad Maher in Kelantan. Attached is the report published by the YSD. The report is available in Bahasa Malaysia and English.

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Malaysian education: What do the poor really want?

April 15th, 2014 by admin Categories: Education, Policy Ideas, Publications No Responses
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This paper is an overview of the results of IDEAS’ nationwide education survey of households in the bottom 40 percent.

The average household income of the respondents was RM 919 per month. With over 1,200 households surveyed in six states across Malaysia, including Sabah and Sarawak, the results provide a glimpse into the barriers faced by low-income parents in Malaysia when they try to provide an education for their children. This paper elaborates on the five main findings which stood out from the data collected:

  1. Information Gap: There is an information gap between government education plans and the information received by the poor.
  2. Accessibility to Education Aid: Government education aid is not reaching the needy.
  3. Lack of interest in school continues to drive students to drop out at an early age.
  4. Education Expenses: Education related expenses continue to be a burden for parents from low-income households.
  5. School Accessibility: Accessibility to schools continues to limit choice for parents.

Addendum 14 May 2014

Giving Voice to the Poor Raw Data & Questionnaire

IDEAS has made the raw data and questionnaire from our Giving Voice to the Poor survey on education in Malaysia available to all online in the following files:

1)    Excel file – raw data (click here to download)

2)    PDF file – questionnaire (click here to download)

You will need to download both files in order to understand the data fully. The questionnaire is coded and those codes are then used in the excel file with the complete raw data. Please feel free to download and use the data for any research purposes. However, please be sure to credit IDEAS if you, as an individual, or your organisation utilise the above information.

Crediting IDEAS: Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS). (2013). Giving Voice to the Poor Raw Data. [Microsoft Excel]. Retrieved from http://ideas.org.my/?p=8108.

If you have any further questions of clarification please contact Tamanna Patel, Senior Researcher Education at tamanna@ideas.org.my or +60 3 6201 8896 / 8897

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