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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, August 13: Sarawak is still waiting for a directive from the Ministry of Finance (MoF) before it can start repairing and rebuilding critically dilapidated schools in the state.
Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong reiterated that the state government had paid RM350 million of its debts to Putrajaya.
“We had a meeting (with the Ministry of Education and Department) just last week. We are just waiting for a directive from the Ministry of Finance,” he told a press conference after officiating at the 28th Malaysian English Language Teaching Association (Melta) International Conference 2019 at a hotel here today.
Puan Besar Perak Darul Ridzuan Her Royal Highness Raja Nazhatul Shima Almarhum Sultan Idris A’fifullah Shah, Melta president Prof Ganakumaran Subramaniam Raja and Ministry of Education deputy director-general Dato Sulaiman Wak were present.
“Once we receive the directive, we can start. We will launch the project(s) and the minister himself (Lim Guan Eng) is expected to come and launch it,” he said.
Manyin added that the ministry had also submitted the list of 37 critically dilapidated schools that required immediate attention.
“They (federal) wanted the repairs to start with five schools first,” he added.
“No, the tender is not out yet as (there is) no directive from MoF yet.”
During the launching ceremony of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) Zone 2 at Kampung Semeba on Aug 4, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg disclosed that the RM350 million, as part of the state government’s debt to Putrajaya, had been paid back.
Lim had also pledged that the federal government would speed up the process of procurement and expenditure of up to RM350 million for the first phase of the project to repair dilapidated schools in Sarawak as soon as the state government made the RM350 million debt repayment.
Manyin also emphasised that a centralised approach to address under-enrolled and dilapidated schools was crucial for the benefit of all stakeholders, including teachers, students and the local community.
“We actually wrote to all the YBs (elected representatives), requesting them to submit to us the schools that can be centralised (or merged), providing that the parents agree because we have too many SKM (Sekolah Kurang Murid) or under-enrolled schools.
“Some of them as low as only 10 students. These are the ones that can be centralised, and it is good for the ministry as the costs can be reduced. There are just too many small schools,” he said.
Sarawak has around 800 dilapidated schools that have fewer than 150 students each, and there are 216 schools along riverbanks, which get flooded annually. — DayakDaily