Monday, May 11, 2015

See: Time sorry state of rural schools get due attention

May 11, 2015, Monday
State PKR vice chairman See Chee How, who made the call yesterday, urged Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Adenan Satem and Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah to get Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin to immediately set up a Cabinet Task Force to address problems facing rural schools in the state.

“Sarawakians in the federal cabinet should also bring up the issues of dilapidated building structures of our rural schools, including students’ and teachers’ quarters, the lack of basic amenities, facilities, equipment and educational aids, and press for speedy resolutions to all these predicaments,” See, who is also Batu Lintang assemblyman, told The Borneo Post yesterday.

He was commenting on the plight of SMK Katibas students who had to grope in total darkness at sundown and withstand hot and stuffy classrooms in the day time as the lights and fans cannot work because the four generators had broken down.

However, darkness and heat are the lesser of problems paralysing the school. Without electricity, the pumps cannot draw water from Katibas River to the boarding school, hence the toilets cannot be flushed and there is no water for bathing and cooking. See said from records, SMK Katibas was named as one of the best six rural schools in Malaysia in 1997, and was ranked amongst the best in Sarawak in academic excellence 20 years ago.

“It is most distressing and unfortunate that the living conditions of this boarding school today are untenable and the students forced to return to their longhouses and their lessons interrupted.” Based on the answers given by the Education Ministry and Education Department, See said it was clear that rural schools in the state had long been neglected by the federal government.

“Last year, in the Sarawak State Assembly, we were informed that the state Education Department had made 230 applications for infrastructural upgrading, improvement works and facilities for schools under the first, second and third rolling plans (2011-2014) costing RM4.59 billion.

“But only five projects were approved. We were also told the federal government had approved RM449.773 million for 751 schools needing repair, renovation or reconstruction. The deputy prime minister had, on revealing the National Education Blueprint 2013-2025, said all schools in Sarawak and Sabah are given priority for infrastructural upgrading and improvement work and be fully equipped with facilities before the end of 2014.”

See said the problems in SMK Katibas, which shrunk the student population from 350 to 20 in the last two weeks, was another instance of neglect and negligence of the federal government to the needs of rural schools in Sarawak and Sabah, thus compromising learning opportunities and future of the affected children.

“I hope the MP serving the constituency, Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development Datuk Alexander Nanta Linggi, will quickly replace or repair the four generators that are used to generate electricity and pump water to serve this only secondary school in the district of Katibas, which has 140 longhouses.”

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