Friday, June 5

SK Pujut Corner sheds ‘sampah’ label

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Students, teachers and staff carrying out the school beautification project.

SK Pujut Corner now stands tall among the best primary schools in Malaysia after many decades of being derogatorily termed as SK Pujut Sampah (thrash).

The development of schools is a reflection of especially the local community’s desire for education and SK Pujut Corner or Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Pujut Corner (SKPC) in Miri clearly manifests that desire.

For many decades since its establishment in 1965, SKPC has been existing in the shadows of other primary schools in all aspects of development and was dubbed SK Pujut Sampah.

Now, a farcry from its lowly past, it has earned the status as one the top primary schools in the country.

Keeping the school compound clean and nurturing the value of appreciating the environment.

Humble beginning

SK Pujut Corner is sited at Pujut 1 at the corner of five villages of different races in Miri – Pujut Corner, Pujut Adong, Pujut Tanjung Batu, Lereng Bukit and Piasau.

According to the founder Moksin Sidi, setting up the school was very important as it gave children from the villages an opportunity to get an education.

Before that, they could not attend school because there was none in their villages and getting to those outside their areas was extremely difficult due to transportation problems.

The latter usually involved trekking through mangrove forests to Miri-Kuala Baram and taking a bus from there to the schools in Miri or Lutong.

At the villagers’ request, the government approved the construction of a school in Pujut. In 1965, a single-storey building was put up with the help of the villagers. It had 70 pupils and the first headmaster was Ngui Siew Len.

Over the years, the school grew to become the largest in Miri Division with a total student intake of 1,040 in Aug 1994.

This year there are 1,138 students, mostly from poor families.

Suriyati (second left) shows a flower garden to (from left) Florence, Shirin and Regina.

Big challenge

According to the headmaster, Suriyati Amit, developing the school was a big challenge as not only were facilities limited but there also a need to cater for poor students and some were stateless.

“It was very tough building this school. For a very long time, it was labelled as Sekolah Sampah or school with poor achievements. Even now, 65 per cent of our students are from poor families – some even can’t afford food and uniforms.

“But thankfully, with the support of the community and the stakeholders, we can now stand tall among the cream in the country,” she told thesundaypost at the presentation of school bags and stationery to 24 needy students on Jan 6.

The donations from the Inner Wheel Club Miri (IWC) were in conjunction with the visit of Inner Wheel District 331 (Singapore, Sarawak and Sabah) chairman, Shirin Rustom Ghadiali who is also the board director of International Inner Wheel.

Accompanying her were IWC Miri president, Florence Enau and exco members.

Building a garden using recycled items.

Way forward

Suriyati who became headmaster in 2015, is thankful for the support of the community, the parent-teachers’ association (PTA), students, staff, govt agencies, corporate bodies and non-governmental organisations.

“Based on the philosophy that the school belongs to the community and is reflection of the community’s desire for education, we welcome help from all quarters.

“This in line with the Ninth Thrust of the Malaysia Education Blueprint (PPPM) 2013-2025 whereby the Education Ministry (KPM) encourages public-private initiative for education transformation in Malaysia.”

Suriyati said this had resulted in support from the community, govt agencies, the police, Bomba and the Health Department as well as organsations such as the Gemilang Foundation, Sime Darby, Petronas, Shell, Velesto Energy Berhad, the Inner Wheel Clubs of Singapore and Miri for community-based school activities.

“The support has been overwhelming and the term SK Pujut Sampah has disappeared. Now, the school is proud to have received numerous divisional, state, national and international awards for various achievements – from academic to co-curriculum and community.”

Among the top awards were the National 5-Star Rating by Education Ministry in 2018 and the Sarawak Chief Minister’s Special Award 2019.

Suriyati herself received the Chief Minister’s Special Award for Outstanding Leadership 2018.

Since 2019, SKPC has been selected for the TS25 Program School, cohort 4.

Suriyati said the school also had several other achievements from initiatives implemented in the various sectors besides improvements to infrastructures and facilities such as school buildings and halls.

“The PTA has played an active role in helping the school, especially in providing facilities and building human capital.

“Elected representatives like Minister for Transport Datuk Lee Kim Shin and Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture, Datuk Sebastian Ting, also helped a lot in developing this school.”

(Seated from second left) Suriyati, Shirin and Florence with staff and members of IWC Miri, and recipients of donations.

Parental involvement

According to her, active parental involvement, including coaching in co-curricular activities such as mukun, silat, dance and sape, has enabled the school to excel in regional, state, national and international competitions.

The students have also been invited to perform at the state level and in neighbouring Brunei.

Parents are also helping potential students through the Gemilang Foundation Programme (started by alumni) by donating breakfast, lunch and school uniforms, and have been mentoring classes for 40 first-grade poor students since 2015.

Moreover, parents and teachers are conducting the Yassin Reading Programme for Muslim students, Smarter Phonic and CEFR, a pre-school morning reading programme.

Besides upgrading infrastructures through the purchase of student chairs, fans, PA systems and paintings to brighten up the classes, the PTA is supporting school projects, including the beautification programme.

The plan is to transform SK Pujut Corner into a school in a park. Recycling materials are used to develop a recycling park, a herbal park and several flower gardens and ponds.

For these efforts, the school won the State 3K competition and other prizes in the Beautiful Landscape Competition in Miri.

“The PTA’s involvement has far-reaching impact on character-building of our students. It will help them to appreciate and preserve nature and the environment.

“We have zero vandalism and the students enjoy being at the school. Gone forever is the term Sekolah Pujut Sampah,” Suriyati said.