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By Adrian Lim
KUCHING, Feb 20: The issue of centralised schools is not the reason behind the delay in the rebuilding and upgrading of dilapidated schools in Sarawak.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong was responding to Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng who was reported as attributing the delay for the completion or upgrading of dilapidated schools to the lengthy process of getting the centralised schools sorted out.
“JKR submitted the scope of work to rebuild or upgrade the 37 dilapidated schools.
“In addition, there is one supposed to be centralised school which is part of the 37 dilapidated schools.
“There have been comprehensive dialogue with the villagers, parent-teacher association and the community.
“They asked JKR to relook at it and whether there is any real objection (to merge).
“The objection may not be from the villagers but they may come from certain politicians which we do not know.
“And that is only one of the 37 projects that has not been tendered,” he told reporters during a press conference at his office here today.
Manyin emphasised that several schools which also include dilapidated schools are experiencing lower enrolment and as a result, the government has to merge them with other schools to become centralised schools.
He noted that centralised schools would help the government to reduce the cost of running many schools as well as improve the results of the students.
Manyin also noted that former education ministers Maszlee Malik and Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid also encouraged Sarawak to have centralised schools and that under the present education policy, if there is one objection from a parent, the education ministry cannot close down the school.
In addition, Manyin also observed that there are about 550 teachers stationed in small schools in Sarawak and they have to take on additional responsibilities by teaching subjects which are not their majors.
Manyin was responding to Lim’s statement which attributed the delay in rebuilding dilapidated schools to the issue of sorting out the centralised schools.
Earlier today, Lim in a statement disclosed the tenders to repair and upgrade 16 dilapidated schools was delayed to allow the Ministry of Education and Sarawak Public 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 will result in the closure of a few schools located near residential areas and the centralised schools to be built in locations far away from the community.
As a result, he believed that the building of centralised schools will cause a drop in the number of students.
Therefore, the closure of a few schools and in particular some dilapidated schools was not approved by the federal government. — DayakDaily