11 OCTOBER 2016
I was dismayed to read about yet another fire in a rural school, this time at SK Sungai Sugai, Pakan. Seven schools in 7 months is too high a number, and is indicative of the neglect our rural schools have been subject to over the past few decades. It appears that our schools are places of high fire risk. This is highly unacceptable – parents must be worried about sending their children to such places. It is lucky that so far no lives have been lost in these fires.
Schools that are well built and properly maintained and equipped with fire extinguishers are essential if we are to provide quality education for our children. Enough has been written about the shocking dilapidated conditions of our schools. Two years ago, Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah was reported to have said that there were 800 schools in the state which continued to be used despite being unfit for occupancy. I wonder whether the figures have improved or worsened.
What has happened with the ‘shifts’ of the Education Blueprint for 2013-2025, one of which was ‘Ensure 100 per cent of schools meet basic infrastructure requirements by 2015, starting with Sabah and Sarawak’? When will the Federal government take us seriously? Do we have to wait until lives are lost? How galling for us to read about the RM2.6bil channeled into the bank account of Malaysian Official No 1, the RM114mil (and counting) Sabah Water board scandal, the RM650 million to be spent on Taman Tugu in KL, etc when our schoolchildren do not even have proper schools in which to study.
The PM and DPM as well as local BN politicians made numerous promises before the Sarawak elections in May this year, including the following for schools:
RM1 mil (PM) for SK St Lawrence, Sri Aman
RM500k (DPM) for SM Riam
RM500k (DPM) for SK Pujut Corner
RM500k (DPM) for SM Pei Min
Unspecified (PM) for SK Long Laput
Unspecified (PM) for SMK Matu upgrade
RM300k (PM) for SJK Chung Hua Bau
RM35 mil (PM) for SMK Long Semadoh
RM2 mil (Adenan Satem) for Riam Road Sec School
RM500k (Adenan Satem) for SJK Thai Kwang)
Perhaps Datuk Fatimah can enlighten us as to the status of these promises, and we hope they are not marked as ‘Empty’.
The PM had asked the people for Malaysia to contribute ideas for Budget 2017. He should make it a point to fulfill all past promises and ensure sufficient allocation to execute the fancy Education Blueprint plans before making more empty promises to the rakyat. The Federal government has to show us more respect and sincerity.
We can never claim to be a developed nation when we subject our schoolchildren to studying and living in damaged, decaying and derelict buildings. This is the ultimate betrayal of the people who entrust their future to us.
Chairman, KEADILAN Sarawak / ADUN N81 Ba’ Kelalan