Teo’s argument over Sarawak govt setting up “private” international schools illogical, says Chai

Jonathan Chai Voon Tok

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Oct 3: Lumping state and federal governments together as one entity with the same functional role in education is outright ridiculous.

But most importantly, the proposed “private” international schools to be set up by the Sarawak government are not government schools but “owned and operated” by a company according to specific provisions under the Education Act 1996 that govern such schools.

As such, the Association of the Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division president Jonathan Chai Voon Tok could not see the rationale behind the arguments presented by professor Teo Kok Seong of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia who has again insisted that such schools will go against the Education Act if they do not use the national curriculum.

“His interpretation is to conveniently support his own views. This professor has conveniently fused the state and federal governments under one entity.

“It is under private school as defined in the Education Act. How could you expect the private international school set up by the state government to be called a government school?,” he questioned.

Teo has described the schools’ operator, Sanjung Services Sdn Bhd, which is a subsidiary of Yayasan Sarawak, as a statutory body under the state government, and thus, any school owned by it would therefore be government schools.

On Teo’s suggestion that it would not be an issue if Sarawak government proposed English-medium schools that used national syllabus instead of international syllabus, Chai said the suggestion was unrealistic when national syllabus in English was none existence at present.

“Furthermore, under the circumstances, do you think the federal (government) will allow the setting up of English-medium schools if there is a national syllabus in English?,” he asked.

Chai pointed out that education was an issue under the control and purview of the federal government at the moment while according to Point 15 of the 18-Point Agreement for Sarawak, education should be under state control.

“His rationale is ridiculous isn’t it? So I don’t get it at all. How can you treat the state government in the same functional role as the federal government. It will go haywire. If state government and federal government have different views and policies on education, whose policy should prevail?

“It should be seen as a compromise solution or even a pragmatic approach on part of the state government on actual devolution of autonomy on education by the federal government,” he said.

Chai, who is also Kuching Chinese General Chamber of Commerce and Industry (KCGCCI) secretary-general, emphasised that Sarawakians were very supportive of the Sarawak government setting up private international schools.

“We know the national curriculum is lacking with a certain degree of racial inclination. But more importantly, as the world advances, we need new knowledge and skills so education should be in tandem with development of technology which focuses more on science and mathematics including English language with commercial value.

“We should look at education purely from the perspective of education and not based on some narrow views,” he added.-DayakDaily