Baru: Dilapidated schools repair must go on despite centralised school issue

Baru (seated centre) together with the appointed parliamentary coordinators having a photo session after the letter of appointment presentation. Also seen were special officer to Works Minister Vernon Kedit (seated right) and PKR Sarawak deputy chairman Baharuddin Mokhsen (seated left).

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By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Feb 21: Works Minister Baru Bian believes the rebuilding and upgrading works of dilapidated schools should be carried out irrespective of the dispute over whether to centralise schools in certain rural areas in Sarawak or not.

Baru added the federal government was trying its best to ensure the repair and upgrading works of the dilapidated schools were being carried out effectively.

“As far as for now at the Cabinet, we are very concerned with the situation (rebuilding and upgrading of dilapidated schools) in Sarawak.

“The implementation must be done within the reasonable time and that there are processes. If it is to be delayed because of this factor (merging of a few schools into a centralised school), I don’t think it should be.

“There are other dilapidated schools which are unaffected by the proposal and the repair of other schools can go on.

“It (repair of other rundown schools) must go on,” he told reporters during a press conference today.

When asked further, Baru said he was unaware of the statement made by Lim on the cause of the delay for repairing and upgrading of 16 dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

Lim in a statement yesterday said tenders to repair and upgrade of 16 dilapidated schools was delayed to allow the Ministry of Education and Sarawak Works Department to re-evaluate the scope and implementation cost of the project.

He added the delay was also due to the proposed merger of a few schools to become centralised schools which was not agreed to by the Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Works.

Lim explained the proposed centralised schools would result in the closure of a few nearby schools located near the residential areas and the centralised schools to be built in location which was far away from the community.

As a result, he believed that the building of the centralised schools would cause a dropout in the number of students.

Therefore, he opined that the closure of a few schools, in particular some dilapidated schools was not approved by the federal government, and thereby contributed to the delay of the repair and upgrading works of dilapidated schools.

Meanwhile, Baru who is Sarawak PKR chairman said he did not foresee the benefits of centralised schools being mooted by the Education Ministry.

As a Sarawakian who understood the plight of rural students, he opined that centralised schools which will be built at a distance further than the students’ home will cause students from the rural areas to travel farther distances to schools.

He opined that it was not very good for their development and their learning process especially those in primary schools.

As a result, Baru did not agree with the proposal by the Ministry of Education to merge a few schools to become centralised schools.

Nonetheless, Baru pointed out that the implementation of centralised schools should only be done after consultation with the parents of the students and it was the best form of solution for the development of the students. —DayakDaily