State awaits nod from Putrajaya to improve basic amenities in 146 schools

Manyin (right) fielding questions from the press, as his assistant minister Dr Annuar Rapaee looks on.

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Nov 13: The state government has allocated RM59 million to connect 113 schools to the electricity grid and 33 schools with treated water supply.

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong said the state had written to the Ministry of Education on Aug 8 this year seeking consent to embark on these projects.

Once Putrajaya has given its green light, the state would implement these initiatives immediately, he said.

“As of today, a total of 371 schools in Sarawak are still dependent on generator sets for electricity and 428 schools are still without treated water supply.

“We have estimated a total RM50 million that is required to connect the 113 schools, which are located within a 1km radius to the grid, while an amount of RM9 million is required to connect the 33 schools with treated water supply.

“The state Cabinet has given its approval for these projects, but due to education being under the purview of the federal government and that the schools are the property of the Federal Land Commissioner, a formal consent from the Education Ministry to carry out works is required,” Manyin told a press conference after delivering his ministerial winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly today.

He added that the Education Ministry had yet to give its consent to carry out works.

He believed the delay in reply from Putrajaya could be due to the legal implications on the three-year diesel supply and generator maintenance contracts (2017-2019) to the 371 schools that needed to be sorted.

Manyin assured that the projects would be awarded using an open tender process.

Touching on dilapidated schools during his winding-up speech, the minister said the previous government had spent RM419 million under the 2018 Budget to rebuild and repair 116 dilapidated schools.

The contract of 66 schools under the Education Ministry and 50 schools under the state Public Works Department were awarded on Jan 29 and Feb 21, 2018, respectively. To date, only 67 schools have been completed and the remaining 49 schools expected to be completed next month.

Manyin said to date, none of the completed schools had been handed over to the state Education Department together with the Certificate of Practical Completion. That is why the state’s record for dilapidated schools remain at 1,020.

“Moreover, I would like to clarify that the cost of these projects only involved upgrading and partial placement. As such, in many cases, the projects only changed the level of dilapidation of the schools from DS3 to DS2 or DS3 to DS1, but the overall status of the schools is still categorised as dilapidated,” he explained.

Manyin also raised flooding issues faced by 216 schools situated along the river banks, especially the rural areas.

“In February-March this year, 53 schools suffered damage to furniture and equipment due to flood.

“The state government has distributed assistance amounting to RM4 million to replace damaged furniture, ICT and non-ICT equipment but such assistance do not provide a permanent solution of flood-affected schools. These schools need to be relocated to higher ground or rebuild on stilts,” he emphasised.

The Tebedu assemblyman said the state was also funding the repair and upgrading of 47 schools with a budget of RM17 million under the Rural Transformation Initiatives. All these projects are scheduled to be completed by the end of 2019.

The state has also approved the upgrade and repairs of 13 dilapidated schools with a cost of RM4 million next year.

Manyin said his ministry had also recommended to the Ministry of Education to merge 263 schools into 49 centralised schools. The state is waiting for a response from its federal counterpart. — DayakDaily