Gawai Dayak in academic calendar: Aspirasi slams MOE for paying ‘scant regard’ to Sarawak’s ethnic groups

Lina Soo (file photo)

KUCHING, Jan 10: Ministry of Education (MOE) pays scant regard to Sarawak’s ethnic groups and is ignorant of Sarawak’s peoples, history and culture, alleges Sarawak People’s Aspiration Party (Aspirasi) president Lina Soo.

Soo in a statement today said MOE’s failure to pay attention when it excluded the Gawai Dayak holiday in the Malaysian school academic calendar continues to create much angst among Sarawakians.

According to her, Gawai Dayak as a public holiday in Sarawak had been gazetted since 1965, and the official celebration of Ari Gawai Dayak is credited to Sarawak’s first assemblywoman and respected politician Dato Sri Tra Zehnder who fought hard for the end of the harvesting season to be formalised as a holiday in Sarawak.

“I proposes a devolution of powers in education be returned to Sarawak where we have autonomy to decide our own school timetable and examination schedules where our exam questions can be set differently if necessary.

“This way, our students will not have to sit for examinations during Sarawak public holidays such as Gawai Dayak and Christian holidays or under special circumstances such as during a pandemic or natural disaster,” she said.

In the same statement, Soo also claimed that in terms of international scholarships, the government of Sarawak has the power under Malaysia Agreement 1963 to manage scholarship applications directly with the donor countries.

She cited the Colombo Plan scholarship as an example, but claimed one hardly hears of any Sarawakian being granted the scholarship for an undergraduate or postgraduate studies, unlike in the past.

“Sarawakians are given very little opportunity when it comes to scholarships which should by right remain a Borneo State responsibility,” she said.

On another matter, Soo opined that the task of printing of the Sarawak Almanac should be given back to a Sarawak printing office.

She said since Percetakan Nasional took over the responsibility from the Sarawak government, the production of the Almanac has always been delayed and never completed in time for the new year.

“This is because the federal printing office doesn’t think it is important enough to Sarawak to get it printed on time which accounts for their nonchalant and lackadaisical attitude.

“There must be a devolution of powers to Borneo States in education, to restore our impeccable record of international standard education from past glory, and to assure future economic and social development of our nation, she added. — DayakDaily