KUCHING, Nov 20 — Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg today announced several financial assistance in the state Budget for next year that he said is specially tailored for students, especially those from families with an per capita income of RM1,500 per month.
He said he recognises the need for the state government to mitigate the cost-of-living pressures among the low and middle-income groups, especially when it comes to bearing the cost of the children’s education.
He said the state government will give out a book voucher of RM500 per person for Sarawakian students studying in public and private institutions of higher learning in the country.
“This assistance is expected to benefit 35,000 university and college students,” he said, adding that a sum of RM17.5 million will be allocated for this purpose next year, which will be managed by Yayasan Sarawak.
He said the state government will give out free laptops to Sarawakian students who have successfully enrolled into public and private institutions of higher learning for students from families with a per capita income of RM1,500 per month and below.
He said this assistance is expected to benefit 5,000 students with an allocation of RM15 million in this Budget.
“This initiative promises to empower our students with the essential technology they need to excel in their academic pursuits.
“On top of that, the government will also provide funding for three other existing student assistance schemes under Yayasan Sarawak,” he said.
He said the first is the additional grant of RM5 million for the Free Tuition Programme to RM15 million.
“The target group will be extended to cover Form 3 to Form 5, thus expanding the number of students entitled to receive such assistance,” he said, adding that an estimated 58,520 students especially from the B40 households are expected to benefit.
He said the second additional grant of RM2 million is for the School Uniform Assistance Programme, aimed at benefiting an additional 10,000 students, bringing the total number of assisted students in 2024 to 30,000.
This allocation helps to further mitigate the financial burden on families, enabling a broader spectrum of students to access essential school attire and supplies.
“This increase brings the total allocation for the School Uniform Assistance Programme to RM6 million in 2024,” he said.
The premier said the third is the special grant of RM6 million to Yayasan Sarawak to top-up the existing allocation of RM3 million to enhance the Local Scholarship programme by doubling the existing assistance amount per student from RM400 to RM800.
“This allocation aims at addressing the rising pressures of daily expenses, ensuring that the assistance to our needy students covers essential needs such as food, stationeries, footwear and more,” he said. He said about 11,250 students will benefit from the programme.
The premier said the state government will continue with the financial assistance to help students to repay their loans with Perbadanan Tabung Pendidikan Tinggi Nasional (PTPTN).
He said a sum RM30 million will continue to provide as assistance for the repayment of PTPTN loan for Sarawakian graduates who have repaid 30 per cent and above. adding that it has 22,900 Sarawak graduates.