Monday, November 5, 2012
A model of private sponsorship
A model of private sponsorship The Star Says IN just over one year, the Community Chest formed as a trust to support vernacular and mission schools has chalked up an impressive record. In that period, it has given out RM100.2mil to 302 schools around the country. And there will be more donations to come. The concept of private entrepreneurs converging to help finance minority education for Malaysians need not be limited to any particular group. Yet compare the Community Chest’s contributions to those of any other group in the country. When Genting Malaysia Bhd, Lion Group, Hong Leong Finance Bhd and others first came together to form the social consortium in August last year, it was a practical demonstration of corporate social responsibility in action. If only more of such private sector initiatives could have developed since then. Still, not only does the Community Chest distinguish itself as a role model for business interests at large, it actively and continually serves the welfare of society. Education is a core right of citizens and a basic and universal social priority. The Federal Government consistently invests heavily in the education sector, which typically takes the largest chunk of the annual national Budget. However, for a rapidly transforming country like Malaysia anxious to climb high in the development stakes, education will always figure prominently as a multiplier. That involves commendable educational facilities throughout all the school years, competent higher education options, and opportunities for world-class post-graduate specialisation and advanced studies in various fields. It would require enormous resources that are constantly available, at adequate levels or better, from both the public and private sectors. That makes the model of financial support that the Community Chest represents, of combining private resources with those of Government, both practical and indispensable. And although its grants have been generous, still more contributions are needed for the worthy cause of education. The Community Chest has been in operation for 14 months now, following its launch in September last year. That should be enough time for other private-sector initiatives to take the hint and offer their own sponsorship programmes. The Government, for its part, should also encourage such programmes with sponsorship-friendly regulations, tax-exempt status to cover corporate citizenship activism, and due diligence and oversight. The ultimate beneficiaries will be Malaysians, particularly the younger generation, and Malaysia’s future.