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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 25: Over RM60 million in funding is needed to help improve the physical infrastructures and facilities of 186 aided Chinese primary schools (SJK Chung Hua) in Sarawak.
Association of the Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division president Jonathan Chai Voon Tok is grateful and thankful that Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has set up the Special Unit for Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Sarawak last year.
Headed by Minister for Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian, the Special Unit coordinates and supervises monetary assistance given to Chinese schools in Sarawak.
“The funding caters to schools in need of extension or school building for additional classrooms as well as the relocation of schools like SJK Chung Hua Bako and SJKC Kai Nang in Kuching as well as SJKC Chiao Nan in Miri.
“These are the needs which we try as much as possible to chip in to reduce the financial burden of the board of management of schools,” he told reporters at SJK Chung Hua Batu 4 1/2 today.
He accompanied Dr Sim to present state funding of another RM1.3 million for the school’s upgrading project with an additional block of four-storey classrooms and a covered hall that is estimated to cost RM7 million.
In total, the school has received RM2.8 million in state funding for the project so far with RM1.5 million given last year.
Chai pointed out that there are 223 Chinese primary schools in Sarawak, out of which 186 are aided Chinese primary schools which they are trying to help.
“Based on the survey conducted last year, a budget of over RM60 million is needed to assist these schools (with their infrastructure needs),” he said.
While it will not be able to provide full funding, he explained that partial funding through the Special Unit is distributed after assessing the needs of the school with priority given to schools with ongoing construction or needed to be relocated to a new site urgently.
“I am aware that a lot of schools misunderstood the intention of setting up this Special Unit as every school wants to have a share of this funding.
“The Committee will look into the urgency of the applications and will prioritise schools with ongoing constructions or need to relocate urgently,” he added.
However, Chai assured the Committee will consider extending the scope in the future once the urgent needs of schools have been addressed.
“So hopefully the funding will be ongoing as we are grateful and thankful to the Chief Minister for his vision to develop education irrespective of the types of schools.
“This is something we need to treasure and most importantly with Dr Sim with us, we will get better,” he added.
In addition, the Special Unit also assists the school’s board of management in applying for alienation of state land for the purpose of school extension or relocation.
The State government initiative for Chinese primary schools started with RM8 million last year which had been distributed for 12 schools and the sum has also been increased to RM10 million this year for 16 schools throughout Sarawak.— DayakDaily