THIRTY of the country's creme de la creme students will be awarded National Scholarships strictly based on merit, which will allow them to further their education in world-renowned universities.
Those who get National Higher Education Fund Corporation loans will also see the loans being converted to scholarships beginning next year - if they graduate with first class honours.
All university students will be offered a netbook package of RM50 (S$20.60) per month for two years, including free broadband service.
There are goodies for schoolchildren. A complimentary student discount card will be given by Keretapi Tanah Melayu Berhad for long-distance services. Pre-school education - to receive RM48 million - will be incorporated into the mainstream national education system, aimed at increasing children's participation from 67% to 87% by 2012.
The Permata Programme will get RM100 million to expand and implement five programmes, including early childcare and education for children under five, training those talented in performing arts and guiding exceptionally intelligent students. It will also have a programme to train youths aged between 18 and 25 years to discourage them from getting involved in social ills.
Twenty high performance schools will be identified next year to produce excellent students, focusing, among others, on academic excellence, overall students' achievements and curriculum activities.
To enhance the skills of the local workforce, RM2 billion will be put aside to upgrade polytechnics and community colleges, provide a RM1.3 billion loan fund for 32,000 students, and to build and maintain equipment at various industrial training and skills institutes.
The Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia at level four and above will also be accredited as being equivalent to the academic stream, making the holders eligible for employment in the public sector and salaries equivalent to diploma holders.
Additionally, RM32 million will be used for special modules, student screening and training programmes to increase literacy and numeracy to 100% among Year One pupils.
The Government will also ensure that schools are managed and administered professionally by principals and head teachers.
For excellence schools, it will introduce the New Deal package, whereby rewards in the form of monetary and non-monetary incentives and autonomy in administration will be accorded.
In tertiary education, public higher education institutions will be granted greater autonomy. The Government will also consider relaxing rules and regulations, which has hindered these institutions from generating their own income and thus reducing their financial dependence.