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By Karen Bong
KUCHING, Sept 25: The Sarawak government, which is determined to spare no effort when it comes to education development in the State, has provided RM2.8 million in funding so far to support the building of a new school block for SJK Chung Hua Batu 4 1/2 so that students will have a more conducive teaching and learning environment.
Minister for Local Government and Housing Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian emphasised that as federal funding does not cover the physical infrastructures of Chinese primary schools, Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg had last year initiated the funding with the setting up of the Special Unit for Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Sarawak.
“The state funding will go towards supporting the extension or upgrading of physical infrastructures and facilities as well as relocation of both urban and rural schools throughout Sarawak which is not borne by the Federal government.
“For Chinese primary schools, the Federal government’s limited budget is specifically for teacher salaries and the operating and maintenance expenditure of schools.
“Anything physical (works) on the schools will require the school board to raise the fund,” he told reporters after presenting state funding to SJK Chung Hua Batu 4 1/2 at Jalan Penrissen here today.
The State government initiative for Chinese primary schools started with RM8 million last year which had been distributed for 12 schools and the sum has also been increased to RM10 million this year for 16 schools throughout Sarawak.
With 223 Chinese primary schools in Sarawak, out of which 186 are aided Chinese primary schools, Dr Sim said the aim is to raise as much funds to help all the schools meet their physical needs within five to six years.
“It is important but it is not easy to do as all schools need to be improved and upgraded over time.
“No states in Malaysia provide such consistent funding except for Sarawak. In Sarawak, we share the resources irrespective of the types of schools including mission schools which are headed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas,” he added.
Association of the Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division president Jonathan Chai Voon Tok explained that the funding is distributed after assessing the needs of schools with priority given to schools with ongoing construction or need to relocate to a new site urgently.
For the upgrading project for SJK Chung Hua Batu 4 1/2 with an additional block of four-storey classrooms and a covered hall costing an estimated RM7 million, it has received state funding of RM1.5 million last year and RM1.3 million today.
Apart from funding, the State government has also allocated 0.6-acre of state land to extend the school premises with zero premium and land title issued.
The school board together with parents, students and teachers have raised RM2.5 million through various progammes and activities.
The school board vice chairman Wong Kiong said they are still short of about RM2.5 million for the project which is now 40 per cent completed.
“We are extremely grateful to the State government and Association for the assistance.
“The project is expected to be completed next year in preparation for operation in 2023,” he revealed.— DayakDaily