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415 schools in state deemed critically dilapidated

Reporters: Lim How Pim, Rintos Mail, Jacob Achoi Suim, Jeremy Veno, Matthew Umpang, Saiful Bahari and Georgette Tan, Photographer: Muhd Rais Sanusi and Chimon Upon

KUCHING: The Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research has deemed 415 schools in the state critically dilapidated and in need of rebuilding at the present or new site.

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong said 205 schools have been identified by the Education Department to be included under the 11th Malaysia Plan’s (11MP) allocation.

“The repair of the remaining 110 schools will be implemented through special funding as announced by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the national Budget 2018,” he said in response to See Chee How (PKR-Batu Lintang) during the question and answer session at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.

Manyin said the ministry is in the process of identifying the schools to be considered priorities.

“One of the things they are thinking of is to centralise the schools because there are too many low enrolment schools with less than 150 students. Some with only 10 to 20 students,” he said.

He pointed out that the RM1 billion allocation under Budget 2018 for dilapidated schools is for 2018 to 2019.

“Details are still under negotiation and will be finalised soon,” he added.

Manyin also urged assemblypersons of rural constituencies to share with their constituents that centralised schools are the way forward.

“We believe that small schools cannot perform in any developing countries. In developed countries like Australia, New Zealand, Finland and Ireland, small is beautiful because they have the resources,” he said.

He explained that those countries have a conducive environment where small schools can thrive with highly-educated parents to support the teachers, as well as specialist teachers to teach key subjects.

“We want to give every rural constituency one centralised school but that again depends on the response of the parents. If parents agree, we will start building centralised schools as early as next year and that will become a model. For those who don’t agree, we will wait and let them see the model,” he said.

Out of the 1,264 primary and 190 secondary schools in Sarawak, 1,020 are considered dilapidated, while 415 are deemed critically dilapidated.

In reply to Ali Biju’s (PKR-Krian) question, Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee said the constituency received RM1.8 million for the maintenance of schools over the past three years.

“Although Krian is an opposition area, the BN government will not politicise the issue of education. There has been much allocation for Krian, especially in education. In 2015, they received RM815,000; in 2016, RM247,000; and in 2017, the allocation was RM746,000,” said Dr Annuar.

He said this year, the state received a budget of RM22 million for the maintenance and repairs of schools.