Monday, March 18

School cries out for help


SK Sungai Arang in Marudi in very dilapidated condition, needs urgent repairs

The front view of the school’s quarters.

MARUDI: SK Sungai Arang, situated next to a crocodile-infested river about 15km from here, needs urgent repair.

Accessible only by boat from Rh Sayun, this dilapidated rural school of 41 students and 14 teachers has classrooms, hostels and teachers’ quarters that are in extremely bad shape.

A check at the school yesterday by BAT7 confirmed the need for the school to be given immediate attention by the relevant authorities.

Most of the teachers who were interviewed felt that they were being ‘exiled’ upon being posted to the school.

One of the female teachers, who preferred to remain anonymous, shared her daily fear of her quarters collapsing.

“Every night, I fear for the safety of my three small children because I feel that the quarters might collapse anytime,” she said when confiding to BAT7 yesterday.

In fact, on numerous occasions her quarters was swarmed by creepy insects such as red ants, fire ants, cockroaches and even the occasional slithery snake.

The N19 hostel supervisor related that she remained at the school because of her desire to serve the rural community and to care for the pupils’ welfare and education.

“In fact, I love this job so much that I risk my own life to serve the people here. I think the least the relevant authorities could do is to improve our living quarters and the hostels for the children,” she added.

In relating his own experience, a male teacher who has been posted here for over a year said even the three new teachers’ quarters were in a very dilapidated condition to the extent that one of them was totally abandoned.

“One of these new quarters had to be completely abandoned as it was really unsafe for anyone to live in it. Most of the buildings at the school have wiring problems, causing short circuits sometimes,” he said.

Meanwhile, Edrews Abdul Gaphar, who works with Marudi assemblyman and Assistant Minister of Local Government Datu Dr Penguang Manggil, urged the school authorities to build a fence around the school compound facing the river to protect it against aggressive crocodiles that have consistently invaded the football field.

“We want to emphasise that the lives of the students and the teachers must be safeguarded from ferocious reptiles which, according to the teachers, will even mate at the school field during high tide. This is too much to bear. I hope the Minister of Education himself will come here and see it for himself how horrible the situation in this school is,” said Edrews.

Edrews (third left) and Kapitan Chin Fung Yung (second left) with some of the school staff at the school entrance.

The school children are seen doing their homework at the hostel’s dining room.

School staff showing a part of the dilapidated school’s quarters.

Kapitan Chin Fung Yung (right) and a school staff showing where crocodiles were seen mating.

During the journey which takes 10 minutes from Rh Sayun by boat, none of those taking the boats dared to touch any topic on crocodiles as there have been numerous attacks by the ferocious creatures that have resulted in deaths.

The school’s football field was inundated for two months from last April till May, causing the pupils unable to use it for sports activities.

A proposal has been made to build new hostels and quarters as the current ones are also subject to landslide.

When contacted, Penguang, who visited the school recently, said he would invite the Ministry of Education to visit the school.

“We need to come up with an immediate plan so that our rural schools will be upgraded and able to catch up with the schools in Peninsular Malaysia and even town areas.

“Otherwise, how do you expect the pupils to perform as well as those in town areas if the school’s facilities are in a poor state?”

Penguang also said there is a need for internet connectivity in the area to aid the children’s learning process.