198 dilapidated schools repaired in S’wak, work on 309 more underway

An artist's impression of SK Merpati Jepang shared by Sagah during his winding-up speech at DUN Complex today (Nov 27, 2023). Screenshot taken from a Sarawak Public Communications Unit’s (Ukas) Facebook livestream.

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, Nov 27: There are over 198 dilapidated schools that have been repaired and upgraded in Sarawak, with work on 309 more schools in various stages of implementation, says Datuk Seri Roland Sagah Wee Inn.

According to the Education, Innovation, and Talent Development (MEITD) Sarawak minister, the State government has approved immediate allocations to relocate and redevelop rural schools in Sarawak.

“Among the schools are SK Ulu Segan, Bintulu; SK Maludam, Betong; SK Kampung Penasu, Daro; and SK Pulo, Kuching. Funds were also allocated to upgrade and improve buildings and facilities at SK Merpati Jepang, Kuching; SK Abang Aing, Sri Aman; SMK Tun Abang Haji Openg, Kuching; and most recently SK Sageng and SMK Gedong, Simunjan,” he said when delivering his winding-up speech during the Second Meeting for the Second Term of the 19th Sarawak State Legislative Assembly (DUN), which was held at the DUN complex here today.

He disclosed that when his ministry was first established in 2017, a lab was established in collaboration with the State Education Department (JPNS) to identify and categorise dilapidated schools in the State, of which 1,020 were identified and placed under three main categories.

“They are category 1 with 395 schools, category 2 with 210 schools, and category 3 with 415 schools. The categories are based on the technical department’s definition of 25 per cent, 50 per cent, and 75 per cent dilapidated condition of the overall school buildings.

“However, in 2019, the Ministry of Education (MOE) redefined dilapidated buildings category into a scale from 1 to 7, with scale 6 and 7 being the worst lot, upon verification by technical personnel from JPNS and the Public Works Department (JKR).

“From this redefined category there are 461 currently under scale 6 and 7. These categories are given top priority for repair and upgrading works.”

Sagah, who is also Tarat assemblyman, said that requests for new secondary schools, merging of under-enrolment primary schools, and establishing Form 6 at SMK Julau No. 1 or SMK Julau No. 2 will be studied and recommended to JPNS for MOE’s further decision.

Furthermore, he revealed that MEITD has proposed to the federal government to increase the number of vocational schools in Sarawak.

Sagah further noted that his ministry has also proposed to MOE that existing State-owned technical institutions be used to provide vocational training.

“This approach of using existing facilities and resources would be faster to implement, as compared to establishing a new vocational college which could take up to five years,” he added.

He noted that there are currently only six vocational colleges and one technical school.

“We are made to understand that the number of applicants to these schools far exceeds their capacities. It seems that courses at vocational colleges are very popular among our youths, especially after their Form 3 (studies).

“Thus, we brought the matter to the attention of the Minister of Education Malaysia, and the Deputy Prime Minister, and Minister of Rural and Regional Development, on the need for more vocational colleges.”

Sagah further highlighted that the benefit of vocational colleges is that students who have completed Form 3 prior to enrolment will still be within the school education system, where the ministry can provide career guidance and support.

“On the other hand, once they leave the school system after Form 5, it would be less likely for them to enrol for vocational or technical courses. This will translate to an insufficient number of skilled talents required to meet the industry’s needs.

“We hope that the federal government will pay due attention to our views and requests, and duly consider our proposal,” he added. — DayakDaily