Thursday, February 20, 2014

Baru: RM1 billion not enough for dilapidated schools in Sabah, Sarawak

Posted on February 20, 2014, Thursday
Baru (second right) reading out a statement from his laptop during the press conference. With him are (from left) Sabah PKR women chief Juliana Jusit, state PKR secretary Lynette Tan and state PKR information chief Vernon Aji Kedit.

KUCHING: The amount of RM1 billion allocated for the improvement of about 600 dilapidated schools in Sabah and Sarawak will not be sufficient.

This is because, says Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian, in Sarawak alone there are around 800 of such schools.

“However, some questions arise. Why is that the figures from the federal government and the Sarawak Education Department do not tally? The federal government’s figures suggest that there are fewer of such schools in Sarawak than what is disclosed by our Education Department,” the state PKR chairman said in a press conference here yesterday.

When announcing the allocation last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had said most of the dilapidated schools, numbering about 600, were located in Sabah and Sarawak.

However, it was reported in newspapers yesterday that there are some 800 dilapidated schools in Sarawak, with Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah quoted as saying that these schools were unfit for occupancy but continued to be used as the students and teachers had no choice.

Baru said the Education Ministry should accept the results of the audit done by the Education Department and allocate more funds to the schools as necessary.

He also said the revelation on the number of dilapidated schools in Sarawak and Sabah is a damning indictment of the extent of the federal government’s neglect of the needs of both states while treating both states as its fixed deposit.

“It is stated in the Education Blueprint that by Dec 2013, all 1,608 schools requiring critical repairs would be fixed and that these repairs would start in Sabah and Sarawak. Are the 600 dilapidated schools in Sabah and Sarawak part of the 1,608 schools requiring critical repairs?

“Common sense would suggest that they should. Assuming that they belong to that category of schools needing critical repair, does this mean that the Education Ministry has failed to achieve its target of completing all repairs by Dec 2013?”

Baru stated that the state PKR would also like to know how the RM1 billion is to be utilised and how the allocation will be made, adding that priority should be given to rural schools as rural students are at a huge disadvantage compared to those in the cities.

“The younger generation in the rural areas deserve the opportunity to learn and better themselves through education and to have that it is important to provide schools that are conducive to the process of education, not the dilapidated and collapsing buildings that many have to contend with now.”

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