SANDAKAN: The first Malaysia Art School (Sekolah Seni Malaysia) Sabah was launched at Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Elopura by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Aman, here, yesterday.
The long-awaited art school received its first 50 Form One students early this year and is currently utilizing the facilities of SMK Elopura, while waiting for the art school to be completed at the Sandakan Education Hub, Mile 10, here.
The Malaysia Art School Sabah is built on a 40-acre site, realized under the 11th Malaysia Plan, Rolling Plan 2, and costs RM70 million.
The art school is the fifth school to be set up in Malaysia after one school each in Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Johor and Sarawak.
Students will be divided into four classes including music, visual art, theatre, and drawing art.
According to the Education Ministry’s director of Co-curriculum and Arts, Rozaimun Ahmad, there was an overwhelming number of applicants from Sabah, and she hoped the setting up of the art school in Sabah could provide opportunities for these applicants to pursue their studies in the art stream.
She said 120 applicants from Sabah had applied to the Art School Malaysia in 2013, and increased to 280 applicants in 2014, and 820 applicants last year.
“The love of art among Sabahans is obvious and I hope the setting up of the art school here would provide space and opportunity for youngsters who want to pursue their studies in arts,” she said.
Rozainum said a study had found that 85.4% of Malaysia Art School graduates furthered their studies in the same field at higher learning institutions within the country and overseas.
“This shows the quality of Malaysia Art School. The existing art school has also been getting one reward after another from overseas competitions and programmes,” she said.
Meanwhile, Musa said: “Sabah is known for its different ethnics, races and cultures. Sabahans are also known to be talented in arts and singing. This school will not only ensure that our traditional cultures such as dances will not be lost in time, but it will also provide opportunities for Sabahans to enhance their talents in arts.
“This school is truly good news for Sabahans,” he said.
Also present during the launching ceremony were Sabah Education Department director Datuk Jame Alip, Sekong assemblyman Datuk Samsudin Yahya, Gum Gum assemblyman Datuk Zakaria Edris, Elopura assemblyman Datuk Au Kam Wah, Libaran parliament member Datuk Juslie Ajirol, Sukau assemblyman Datuk Saddi Abdul Rahman, Karamunting assemblyman Charles O Pang, Sandakan Municipal Council president Datuk James Wong and other local leaders.