‘Education might not have reached rural areas if not for mission schools’

Uggah (seated at head of table) chairing the state Mission School Authorities' first meeting with Unifor.

KUCHING, Oct 6: Mission schools played a very important role in empowering the rural community through proper education in Sarawak.

The Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuching Simon Poh emphasised that mission schools were an integral part of the state’s development by providing the basic foundation of education to rural children.

“In rural areas, education might not be there if not for them (mission schools),” he said after the state Mission School Authorities’ first meeting with Unit For Other Religions (Unifor) here today.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah, who is in charge of Unifor, chaired the meeting to discuss the schools’ needs.

Poh highlighted this during the meeting which had called for the federal government to allocate funds for the setting up and upgrading of facilities so as to elevate the standards of mission schools in the state.

Uggah explained that there was a committee within Unifor to raise such issues with focus on financing either for maintenance or for facilities.

“On the part of Unifor, I will be writing to the Prime Minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) for some funding too.

“The federal government has certain funds meant for non-Islamic groups,” he said.

Uggah also called on the committee to work out the estimated funds needed to help in setting up and upgrading mission schools in Sarawak.

“Let us work this out. The critical issue is we need to be fair in the dispensing.

“We must have a system to see that the less fortunate schools like those in rural areas with no other sources of income are effectively helped,” he emphasised.

On the proposal by the Methodist Chinese Annual Conference to open up five national private schools, Uggah said the state government was all for it.

“This is a good idea. Private schools are independent and are more consistent with their curriculum. They are also able to provide very effective education ” he added.

There are currently 127 mission schools in Sarawak with 113 primary schools and 14 secondary schools, mainly in Kuching, Sibu and Miri divisions.

Of the primary schools, the Roman Catholic ones number 57, Anglican (45) and Methodist (5); while for the secondary schools, seven are overseen by the Roman Catholic church, Anglican church (5) and Methodist church (2).

In addition, there are 92 kindergartens operated by the three denominations.

Meanwhile, the meeting was held in response to the call by Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg for mission schools to have its own committee to specifically look after their financial needs as well as to help solve any problems they faced.

Bishop of the Anglican Church of Sarawak and Brunei Datuk Danald Jute, Revd Lau Kiong Ping representing the Methodist Sarawak Chinese Annual Conference and Kaso Linang representing the Methodist Sarawak Iban Annual Conference were among those present. — DayakDaily