By Karen Bong
KUCHING, March 8: The Sarawak government plans to set up international boarding high schools to nurture bright students for elite universities and become the new generation of movers and shakers, thinkers and leaders of the state.
Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg emphasised that the approach to education in Sarawak had to change in order to keep up with information technology that was rapidly advancing and evolving over time.
“This is a heavy investment on the part of the state government. To begin with, we will have four international schools, and the sites have been identified in Kuching, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu,” he elaborated after launching Sin Chew Education Fair 2019 at a leading hotel here today.
“The aim is to nurture and produce elite students who can pursue higher studies and gain admission into the best international universities in the world, including in New Zealand, United States (USA) and United Kingdom (UK) such as Stanford, Harvard, Oxford, Cambridge or London School of Economics,” he added.
He revealed that Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong had just returned from Cambridge University to seek partnership and collaboration.
“I will give the budget by next year to build a basic but residential school. It will take quite some time,” he said.
On the model of the international school, he said it would be similar to that of Mara Junior Science College (MRSM) or Singapore’s reputable colleges, which were government-owned and admission would be fully selective.
“This particular school will take in the ‘creme de la creme’ students. We will work with Cambridge University on the international syllabus and, of course, Bahasa Malaysia will be a single subject. Even the teachers will be trained,” he said.
Noting that international schools were a luxury afforded to few due to the expensive fees, Abang Johari, however, emphasised that the school would be within the reach of the poor.
“This will provide opportunities for the poor to kickstart their educational journey and improve chances of gaining admission into good and elite universities via Yayasan Sarawak scholarships,” he said.
The group of elite students who have obtained new knowledge and skills, he continued, must return and contribute to the development of Sarawak, with a focus on digital transformation to move Sarawak’s economy upwards.
“Sarawak’s economy is no longer isolated but integrated with the global economy. With that, we need quality human resource as well as technology to optimise the strength and resources of Sarawak, which has a small population but huge land mass,” he added.
On the fair, he hoped it would give exposure and opportunities to Sarawak students, particularly, to look for opportunities to further their studies in local and international institutions.
Media Chinese International Limited group executive director Tiong Choon and acting High Commissioner of New Zealand Malaysia Gareth Pidgeon were present. — DayakDaily