Wednesday, December 7

PM’s Office expresses concern over tragic fire in Mulu

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Teo (second left) talks to teachers and representatives of PTA at SK Batu Bungan.

MULU: The Prime Minister Office was as concerned as the Ministry of Education about the tragic fire of the living quarters for teachers in a school at Mulu and requested the ministry to look into it.

Deputy Minister of Education Teo Nie Ching disclosed this in a dialogue with teachers, PTAs and community leaders at SK Batu Bungan, Mulu yesterday after flying in from KL.

“We received calls from the PM’s Office and really appreciate our teachers who are willing to stay in rural areas to teach our children.

“We also understand that sometimes infrastructure in the interior is not so good,” she said.

There is the need to identify any weaknesses in rural school infrastructures and weed out potential causes of untoward incidents.

Teo said the federal government, particularly, Minister of Education Dr Maszlee Malik takes very seriously the tragic fire incident which killed teacher Catherine Janet Tiwi and injured two others.

Due to his commitment at Putrajaya and the current parliament sitting, Dr Maszlee sent Teo to the scene instead.

“You are in our minds and our minister really cares about you all and takes this very seriously,” she said.

Teo said, shortly after her appointment on July 2, she intended to visit Sarawak and Sabah to see for herself the issue of 107 schools with low enrolment, particularly in Sibu where 50 such schools were brought to her attention by Sibu MP in parliament.

She was saddened that the trip was pushed forward by this tragic incident and said it must never happen again.

On the burnt quarters, Teo said the ministry will consider the possibility of channelling funds directly to the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) to tender directly for the reconstruction of the teachers quarters.

“A report on the budget and specification must be submitted to the ministry and we will discuss with the Sarawak Education Department on how best to do it,” she said.

On her experience in the past four weeks in office, the first time deputy minister said many complaints were received ranging from lack of teachers, application by teachers to be transferred back to Peninsular Malaysia amongst others.

The ministry under the Pakatan Harapan government will try to resolve them but asked for more time to review and revamp the system.

“Changes cannot be done overnight but hopefully in the next few months, “ Teo said.