The proposal to establish Maktab Rendah Sains Mara (MRSM) pay schools for well-to-do groups will not involve any government allocations, Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said today.
Zahid, who is also the rural and regional development minister, said the "futuristic plan" by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) would use the private financing initiative and funding through collaboration with financial institutions.
Zahid also assured that the fee-paying MRSM would not be built on land reserved for projects meant to benefit the poor.
"We will cooperate with several parties using smart partnership for construction," he said during the minister’s question time in the Dewan Rakyat.
He was replying to a supplementary question from Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (PH-Muar) on whether the government would utilise Mara land reserved for poor people and the B40 group to cater for the schooling of T20 and M40 children.
He said the fee-paying MRSM can be implemented based on the model of Sekolah Menengah Imtiaz Ulul Albab Melaka.
"Based on my personal experience, I set up Sekolah Menengah Imtiaz Ulul Albab without a single sen of allocation from the government. I have done it and the school has been operating for 11 years," he added.
Zahid said the proposal to set up MRSM pay schools was in response to the overwhelming demand for entry into MRSM, where applications had reached 300% of its capacity.
"We have conducted a feasibility study and found that many students are eligible to enter MRSM based on academic qualifications but do not qualify in terms of their parents’ income brackets, especially those in the T20 and M40 groups.
"One condition (for MRSM admission) is giving priority to the B40 group," he said, adding that there were also too many requests from MRSM alumni who wanted to enrol their children at the institution.
He said Mara would provide the most opportunities possible for the children of these groups to enter MRSM, but without compromising its quality and academic requirements.
On complaints raised by Syed Saddiq regarding hidden costs at MRSM, such as for the purchase of clothing for certain programmes, Zahid said he would meet with the MRSM parent-teacher association chairmen to find ways to free B40 children from this burden.