Rising above political divide

Education Minister assures that more fund will be provided for dilapidated schools in Sarawak

Maszlee (left) greets Abang Johari during a courtesy call at the Chief Minister’s Office in New DUN Complex.

KUCHING: The Ministry of Education (MOE) has promised Sarawak that every single sen to be channelled to the state will benefit the people.

Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik also assured that more fund would be coming, aside from the RM100 million allocated to repair dilapidated and critical schools in Sarawak this year.

“This is the purpose of my visit which is to make sure everything will take place unlike in the past, which I don’t want to comment on. Today, we in MOE want to make sure what we promised are delivered to the people of Sarawak,” he said when asked about the RM1 billion allocation for Sarawak schools promised by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government.

Where education is concerned, he stressed that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government will not be biased against states under the opposition.

“Even though Sarawak is not under the PH government, when it comes to education, people come first and their interests are above and beyond politics for the sake of the country’s future,” he said.

Maszlee said this at a press conference after paying a courtesy call on Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg at his office in the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) complex here yesterday.

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Sarawak Dato Sri Michael Manyin and Assistant Minister of Education and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee were among those present.

Maszlee assured that his ministry was committed to addressing issues related to dilapidated and critical schools with the aim to solve the problem in two years.

“Also, based on the 11th Malaysia Plan, RM2.7 billion has been allocated to implement projects for schools and related facilities in the country until 2020. It is also the federal government’s commitment to help people in Sarawak in the education sector,” he added.

Maszlee, who arrived in Kuching for a two-day working visit on Thursday, visited several schools in Samarahan and Simunjan areas.

Relating his heartache after seeing for himself the dilapidated schools, he said: “My heart and mind is with Sarawak as I can’t stop crying and thinking about the poor conditions of not only the schools but also the facilities including the teacher’s hostels.”

“So let me deal with it when I go back to Kuala Lumpur. But at the moment, the people and schools of Sarawak are still residing and ingrained in my heart. I can’t think of other things for now,” he added.

On a happier note, Maszlee was very impressed with the attitude of the teachers whom he described as dedicated and sincere in teaching the children despite being in an unfavorable environment  which did not affect them in carrying out their duties and responsibilities professionally.

“Secondly, I’m impressed with the students who are so diligent in learning even though in rural areas. I had the opportunity to see their talents in English language, science and leadership,” he said.

“I am confident that these talents, if given more opportunities, they are the future of our country. So I reckon that full boarding schools should be open to rural students especially from Sabah and Sarawak,” he added.

On the meeting with Abang Johari, Maszlee said that the discussion was fruitful especially on how the MOE and Sarawak government could work together and collaborate in executing and fulfilling the agendas on education for the benefit of Sarawakians.

“Two things were emphasised; the quality of teachers, quality of teaching and quality of students while not forgetting the quality of classrooms, schools and facilities,” he shared.

“These are our focus and we will give full cooperation because it is important and crucial for both MOE and the state government to collaborate on,” he said.

Maszlee also commended the Sarawak government for aiding Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) especially in getting the university involved in carrying out academic and scientific research programmes.

“I also urged the Sarawak government to offer more scholarships to Sarawakian students to pursue higher education in public universities,” he added.

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