Loan to fix broken schools yet to have Putrajaya’s nod — Manyin

Manyin speaking to reporters after opening the conference.

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By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, July 2: The Sarawak government hopes the Education Ministry will expedite funding from its proposed RM1 billion contra loan to fix dilapidated schools.

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong said the state had proposed that RM300 million be approved for the purpose this year, with another RM300 million next year, to address the 415 critically dilapidated rural schools.

A total of 1,020 out of 1,457 schools across the state are identified as dilapidated, with 415 categorised as “critically dilapidated”.

“We have agreed to establish a tripartite committee comprising the Education Ministry, Finance Ministry and the state government to manage the RM1 billion fund, which would be placed into a special vault (account) and not into the Federal Consolidated Fund.

“Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik is very supportive of fixing dilapidated schools in Sarawak and suggested this approach. We have agreed to this proposal but (it has) yet to be approved by the federal government,” he told reporters at the 54th Sarawak Secondary School Principal Association’s Education Management Conference here today.

State Education director Dr Azhar Ahmad and association president Abang Othman Abang Masagus were present.

When asked if politics had affected the RM1 billion contra loan proposal, which was agreed to by the previous Barisan Nasional government, Manyin ruled out political element as the cause for delay.

In his speech earlier, the minister said Dr Maszlee was sympathetic with the situation in Sarawak and that education matters should not be politicised.

However, Manyin said there seemed to be a problem from the “higher up” at the moment. The state government has yet to receive approval from the Finance Ministry to utilise the fund.

On a positive note, he said Azhar had met with Ministry of Education secretary-general Datuk Dr Mohd Ghazali Abas on the matter and that the ministry is pursuing the case.

He said another meeting would take place between the state and federal education officers within the next two weeks.

On a related matter, to create a level playing field in providing quality education, Manyin said rural schools should receive more allocation to improve academic facilities.

“In Sarawak, school conditions are not the same. Some are well equipped, while some dilapidated. These schools lack facilities or specially trained teachers.

“There are many schools in the interior, such as Baram and Kapit, that need more allocation to be on par with other schools. We should look into this, as practised in countries such as Finland, so that all schools can be of equal footing,” he added.

Finnish education, with its equal school system, is widely regarded as the best in the world. — DayakDaily