Thursday, December 8

Sarawak has most number of boarding schools

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KUCHING: Sarawak has the most number of boarding schools and also schools with very few students in the country.

Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said this was the scenario in Sarawak as the government wanted to make sure that education reached everyone including those in the rural areas and also to prevent school dropouts.

“As best as possible, we will make sure that a boarding school is built to cater to nearby villages in the interiors so as to encourage the children to go to schools unlike in Peninsular Malaysia, where a boarding school is regarded as an elite school.

“This creates a scenario where we have the most number of boarding schools because of the need and another scenario whereby we have the most number of schools with few students. Some of the schools have less than 50 students,” she told a press conference yesterday.

Fatimah was asked on measures taken by the government to reduce the number of drop outs by the minority community including the Penans in the rural areas.

“It is our quest to provide education for our children even if they are from the remote areas but they have to come to the boarding schools.”

She said the critical moment for the minority community was after they finished their Primary 6 and going to Form 1.

“For the Penans, the critical moment for them is after Primary 6 and going into Form 1. Some of them don’t continue their studies after Primary 6. That is considered as drop out.”

Fatimah said the government was aware that the Penans had a close-knit family and because of that, some secondary school principals had even allowed Penan parents to build transit home (rumah arau) in the schools field to enable them to stay there during the weekdays and go back to their villages with their children during the weekends.”

“I have visited the transit home in Tatau which has the most remote schools and I believe there are some in Baram as well. To us, the most important thing is we want our children to be in school and that is why we allow the parents to build the transit home.”

She also said the presence of K9-concept schools in the rural areas would also help to address the issue of drop-out in the state.

Meanwhile, state Education Department human development management sector head Ambrose Jarit said the average attendance of the students in the state last year was 94.7 per cent which was among the highest in Malaysia.

“The national target is 95 per cent for the average daily attendance. Of course, the figure is different from one district to the other.”

As of March this year, Ambrose said the average daily attendance in the rural schools were 97 per cent, adding that one would be surprised that sometimes, it was the students in town schools that contributed to the absenteeism.

“When we talk about attendance, overall the schools in Baram are doing well. But consistently every year, the average daily attendance in Belaga is around 90 per cent. Although it is lower they still manage to maintain it at around 90 per cent.”