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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, March 30: The Association of the Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary Schools Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division has appealed to the Sarawak government to set up an administrative unit under the Chief Minister’s Department to look after the interest and financial needs of Chinese and mission schools in the state.
The proposed unit is similar to the Unit for Other Religions (Unifor).
The Association’s president, Jonathan Chai Voon Tok, said it had been an onerous financial burden for the community to build and maintain the facilities for aided Chinese primary schools that had produced a countless number of elite students over the years.
“The allocation of funds to these schools annually from the federal government could hardly satisfy their actual needs and, therefore, the formation of such agency is deemed imperative in providing a lending hand to these schools,” he said.
He highlighted this at the Association’s 35th anniversary cum fundraising dinner for the relocation of SJK Chung Hua Bako at SJK Chung Hua No 3 here yesterday (March 29). The event was officiated at by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.
Chai also appealed to the Chief Minister to consider the requests from member schools on the pressing need for bigger space to provide a conducive environment for students, either through the acquisition of private land or alienation of state land adjoining school premises.
“As education comes within the purview or jurisdiction of the federal government, Sarawak government is hand tied and very much restricted when dealing with education matters,” he noted.
Therefore, Voon emphasised that the Association pledged its undivided support to the state government to reclaim its autonomy in education to revamp or even overhaul the education system, especially in areas relating to syllabus and curriculum, training of teachers and provision of adequate facilities.
“It is only through a sound education system would we be able to keep abreast with time and keep up with the pace of the digital era,” he said.
Chai shared that the Association was a federation representing the Boards of Management of 56 aided Chinese primary schools (SJK Chung Hua) in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division.
“In 2019, a total of 18,039 students enrolled to study in these schools, out of which over 25 per cent (or 4,592) are Bumiputras and some of the member schools in the rural areas have as high as 80 per cent of Bumiputra students out of their total enrolment of students,” he said.
“Literally, SJK Chung Hua looks more like a community school nowadays, and they are no longer a Chinese school per se. This also means that when we are raising funds for the schools, our efforts also cater to the needs of the Bumiputra students,” he added.
Chai also proudly acknowledged the extraordinary achievement of one of its member schools — SJK Chung Hua Batu Kitang — in the UPSR last year.
“The school scored a 100 per cent passing rate for UPSR last year, and it so happened that all the nine students who sat for the exam were Bumiputras (seven Malays and two Bidayuhs),” he said.
“To the best of my knowledge, it is unprecedented to have all the Bumiputra students in any SJK Chung Hua passed their Chinese papers in UPSR,” he commended.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Micheal Manyin Jawong, Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, organising chairman cum deputy president Rodger Chan, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii and Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How were present. — DayakDaily