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By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, May 19: Layar assemblyman Gerard Rentap Jabu opines that Betong Division need not have a university for now as various existing colleges are sufficient for the local population’s current education needs.
“I believe it is better for the existing educational institutions in Betong to collaborate and offer modules as part of a university campus branch. We can have virtual lectures with better connectivity and Internet penetration will be better off as virtual lectures will be the norm in future.
“Currently, we are planning to have a place to teach modern technology for farming using Internet of Things,” Rentap told DayakDaily when contacted today.
He was commenting on queries by netizens on whether the planned university for Betong would be implemented any time soon as promised by his father and former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Alfred Jabu Numpang.
Rentap reiterated that a new campus might not be viable at the moment as Betong already has many schools and various colleges to cater for the needs of the local populace.
“Currently we have eleven primary and five secondary schools including MRSM Betong. Also, established institutions in Betong include Metro Polytechnic, Kolej Komuniti Betong and Centexs (Centre of Technical Excellence) offering limited courses up to diploma level,” he explained.
Rentap, who succeeded his father as Layar assemblyman also highlighted that results from local primary schools especially for Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) has not been that good and there were no straight-A achievers in the division until last year when two students scored this milestone.
“With results not that encouraging, we had difficulty even to fill the quota for MRSM. What I have done was to form our Layar Education Development Committee to look into root problems and plan interventions to build a better learning foundation from early childhood learning and throughout the primary to secondary education journey.
“We also encourage our teachers to attend courses and enhance their skills. One of our initiatives is phonic reading programmes to ensure pre-schoolers can read and write especially in English by the time they get to Primary One,” he added.
Rntap added that the programme was ongoing even during the Movement Control Order (MCO).
“This has been ongoing and results are forthcoming. Even during the MCO the teachers have Zoom meetings with our trainer from Jolly Phonics to chart home learning tasks.
“Through our committee, we also provide workbooks for every student sitting for their UPSR, PT3 (Form 3 Assessment) and SPM (Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia) examinations. We have also done townhall sessions with parents, teachers and the community as a whole on how to further improve our results.
“With this current Covid-19 situation, we are experiencing new norms and see the importance of Internet penetration in ‘kampung’ and longhouses. This is where the challenge is when our connectivity is limited,” added Rentap. — DayakDaily