Rural schools allocated RM50 mln to ensure they get round-the-clock electricity

Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg. (file photo)

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By Lian Cheng

KUCHING, Jan 13:  The Sarawak government has allocated RM50 million to connect all rural schools to the main grid to ensure they enjoy 24-hour electricity supply.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said this was done to relieve rural schools from depending on generator sets for electricity.

“So the schools cannot rely on diesel-fueled generator sets. At least they can be connected to the main grid and we have provided a sum of RM50 million from the state fund to connect all these schools as recommended by the Education Department.

“We just connect (the schools) to the main grid and they won’t have to depend on diesel generator sets as source of power.  With that sort of environment at least we can improve the condition of our rural schools,” said Abang Johari at a meet-the-media session held at his office on Jan 6, in conjunction with his third anniversary as chief minister.

He was explaining on rural development – one of the 81 initiatives – which includes electricity supply to rural houses and schools, which he had launched before he became chief minister.

“In other words, as you know our rural development, last time we depended very much on rural ministry. For instance, one policy for their rural electrification programme was only to provide the cable to the last electricity pole, but not to the house,” he said, explaining that the Sarawak government was now funding the Rural Electriciation Scheme (RES) and linking electrical cables to residences to ensure power supply.

He said by connecting all rural schools to the main grid, at least, the condition of rural schools may be improved.

On run-down schools in the rural area, Abang Johari said that although the project fell under the Works Department, the financial resources were from Sarawak government.

“This is under JKR, but the money to build dilapidated schools is from the state government – we cannot wait for federal government and have to do it on our own. We also want to connect electricity to the schools from our main grid,” he said.

The Sarawak government will also set up five international schools based on recognised international syllabus such as Cambridge syllabus.

He said these international schools would be meant for the best of the best, particularly students of high potential from not well-to-do families whose parents cannot afford to send them to international schools.

“These students can be placed in these international schools which are going to be residential schools, meant for every race, as long as they are qualified to enter the schools.

“And we hope that these schools would be able to fit or be accredited by universities in the world. We have made arrangements that Cambridge University will give us two places every year, London School of Economics will also provide us two places every year, and now we are still negotiating with Stanford University of the United States.”

He pointed out, however, that although these world renowned higher institutions were willing to take in Sarawakian students, they must first be eligible for admission.

Abang Johari is also eyeing Stanford University because the varsity is known to be innovative in terms of IT and technology.

“Sometimes we need also to send students, the best of the best, to certain reputable universities that is more innovative in nature. As you know, with regards to IT worldwide, a lot of experts are coming from Stanford University,” said Abang Johari. —DayakDaily