TANJUNG MALIM: The Education Ministry hopes that Budget 2023 will focus on improving the safety of schoolchildren, school facilities and hygiene, says its Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Mah Hang Soon.

He said there were about 10,000 institutions registered under the ministry and over 400,000 teachers.

“I believe that the Finance Ministry will know what’s best for everyone, especially for the education sector,” he told reporters after presenting books at SMK Proton City here yesterday.

The education sector received the largest chunk of Budget 2022 at RM52.6bil. This included RM450mil for early school aid for three million students, where each student was to receive RM150.

Dr Mah said his ministry had forwarded its requests to the Finance Ministry.

Among the requests were funds for the maintenance and renovation of school buildings and facilities.

On Sunday, former education director-general Tan Sri Alimuddin Mohd Dom said the education sector should receive an increase of more than 10% to 30% in allocations in this year’s Budget.

He said it was necessary since more computers and information technology equipment were being used for learning.

Earlier, Dr Mah said more efforts would be carried out to encourage students and their parents to read.

“Research revealed that Malaysians on average spend about three hours a week reading, while Americans spend about 30 minutes.

“Although the data is encouraging, we want more Malaysians to spend more time reading,” he said, adding that a proposal to open more public libraries and make more reading materials available was being discussed.