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KUCHING, Oct 7: If Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) Youth chief Datuk Snowdan Lawan has his way, he would love to see the setting up of an Iban language primary school in the future and further exploration of this possibility.
However, being a practical politician, he knows that the journey to realise this dream school will have to include facing a mountain of obstacles.
“Of course, we hope to have an Iban language primary school, but I believe the Bidayuh and Orang Ulu communities also want a Bidayuh langauge primary school or an Orang Ulu language primary school, too.
“We have to look at it from an overall standpoint and exploring some aspects, including the necessity, continuity, sustainability and viability,” he said.
One of the biggest challenges, he reckoned, was coming up with a sufficient number of compelling reasons that could persuade the Education Ministry to give its approval and also to fund it, as funding is crucial to ensure the school’s sustainability.
“Will the Education Ministry see the relevance of having an Iban language school?
“Then there is the question of teachers. Do we have enough teachers who can teach in the Iban language for various subjects?
“There is also the question of students. Do we have enough student sources? There are only about 800,000 Ibans in Malaysia, unlike the Chinese, where their population is much bigger nationwide,” said Snowdan, who is also Sports and Youth Assistant Minister.
He opined that Chinese language schools could survive due to their long history and the existence of a management system, where associations and Chinese non-governmental organisations (NGOs) would not only help manage but chip in financially whenever necessary.
Snowdan noted that in the face of competition from Bahasa Malaysia- and English-medium schools, Tamil schools were on the decline due to a decreasing number of students despite being well-supported by the government.
“Setting up an Iban school is a good idea, but it is one that really needs to be look into.
“We have the Tun Jugah Foundation that is doing good research on Iban Language. Perhaps, the foundation could help by gathering some Iban intellectuals to look into the matter and see how we can go from there,” he said. — DayakDaily