Monday, April 21, 2014

BARU BIAN: UNCOVERING THE DEPLORABLE STATE OF SCHOOLS IN SARAWAK - SK LONG TUKON


16 APRIL 2014
PRESS STATEMENT




In my latest round of visits to schools in Ba’ Kelalan, I was again appalled by the condition of the buildings and the lack of facilities, especially in SK Long Tukon.

A common complaint in almost every school is the lack of teacher’s quarters. In SK Long Tengoa, the headmaster had no choice but to hand over his quarters to house 4 teachers. Those quarters that exist in these schools are in serious disrepair, having received no maintenance or upgrade since they were built.

The same applies to the school buildings that house the classrooms. Wood is seen to be decaying and broken off and cement cracked in many places. The attached photos show wooden steps and railsthat have rotted and broken off as well as a leaking roof at SK Long Tukon, the first school ever built in the Trusan area. The buildings have obviously seen better days and are in dire need of replacement.


The state Education director Datu Abdillah Adam stated last week that most rural schools were built using substandard materials over 40 years ago and were not meant to last. I fully concur with him, after what I have observed during my visits. According to one of my seniors in school, the primary school building in SK Long Tukon is exactly the same as it was when he attended the school in the early 60’s.


How could the government allow this state of affairs to happen? These cases are not confined to my constituency of Ba’ Kelalan. In September last year, Limbang Education Officer Mohamad Tangah said that 90 per cent of primary schools in Limbang district need maintenance work. In February, it was reported that there are 800 dilapidated schools in Sarawak and the Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister said that these schools are unfit for occupancy but continue to be used as the students and teachers have no choice.



How can the ministers talk with a straight face about Sarawak becoming the richest state and having a high income economy if they have not provided the people with the basic education infrastructure and facilities for so long? This neglect is unforgivable as education is the key to all advancement and progress in any society. Now the government has woken up to the fact that we do not have enough skilled workers to run all the industries that are being lured into Sarawak and that we will have to import labour to meet the shortfall while we build vocational and technical schools to train our youth. However, we have to question whether members of the younger generation are receiving the basic foundation required to equip them for higher education. The unsafe and undesirable conditions these children and teachers have to put up with are surely not conducive to maximizing the potential of these children. Hardship allowances paid to the teachers cannot make up for the low morale of those who feel neglected and undervalued by the system.

I would like to ask the Ministry of Education to share with us how the RM1bil announced by the Deputy Prime Minister for the rebuilding of dilapidated schools will be allocated and the timetable for implementation. There are numerous schools throughout Sarawak crying out for some attention. Our children deserve better.

Baru Bian
ADUN N70 Ba’ Kelalan

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