PEKAN: The government will provide special additional assistance to Orang Asli students to pursue tertiary education in efforts to ease their burden and as an incentive for them to further their studies.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who is finance minister, said the one-off aid would be announced during the tabling of the 2018 Budget next month.
“The government strongly encourages Orang Asli children to attain success up to university level. From 2010 to 2016, we had a total of 72 Orang Asli students studying abroad, while 767 Orang Asli students are currently studying at public universities,’ he said.
He was speaking at a gathering and afternoon tea with the Orang Asli community in Kampung Mencupu here yesterday which was attended by Rural and Regional Development Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Also present were JAKOA director-general Jamaluddin Kasbi and Senator Isa Ab Hamid.
Najib said the additional aid was given to ensure that the Orang Asli students were not left behind in the education field solely due to financial constraints.
For the record, the government had previously provided an assistance of RM3,800 per semester for every Orang Asli student pursuing a diploma programme and RM4,600 per semester for every Orang Asli taking up a degree programme.
In an effort to further uplift the living standard of the Orang Asli community in the country, Najib said the government was in the process of improving the existing programmes to foster closer ties with the government.
“As a caring government, we will always ensure that the Orang Asli community is not left behind and neglected in the mainstream of development. In fact, we want them to be in the mainstream of development.
“Hence, whatever development we are doing must have inclusiveness in the sense that the Orang Asli must also be included in all the programmes that we are implementing,” he said.
Najib also announced an additional allocation of RM1 million to implement the homestay programme being operated by JAKOA in collaboration with the tourism ministry.
He said the allocation was in addition to the RM2 million provided by the government for Orang Asli entrepreneurship programmes.