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Education: S’wak’s ‘lackadaisical’ attitude blamed

 | September 17, 2013

Poor logistics in Sarawak hampers Education Ministry's bid to curb the state's high student dropout rates.

KUCHING: Recent contradictory statements by two Barisan Nasional state ministers here has further compounded the shocking revelations that Sarawakians were incapable of taking up federal scholarships have shown up the state administration’s “lackadaisical” attitude towards education.

Both Deputy Chief Minsiter Alfred Jabu and State Minister of Welfare, Women and Family Development Fatimah Abullah had made two opposing statement on the status of K-9 or Cohort School concept at Long Bedian in Baram.

Jabu had reportedly said the authorities were monitoring SK Long Bedian and if the K-9 concept proved to be effective in preventing students dropout, the state government “will apply for one or two” more K-9 schools for the Murum area.

Fatimah on the other hand said that the K-9 concept had already proven to be effective in increasing the enrollment of children into Form 1 classes and that it was now possible for SK Long Bedian to be upgraded from K-9 school to a K-11 school.

The conflicting statements have left Sarawak PKR perplexed. The question now is who is lying?

Boniface Willy Tumek, a committee member of Mas Gading PKR division, is convinced that both leaders are lying and ignorant of the actual ground situation.

“Both Jabu and Fatimah Abdullah are just making guesses about the K-9 concept.

“We are extremely concerned at the serious lack of knowledge on the part of our state government with regards to the true state of the education system in the state,” he said.

High dropout rate

Tumek said that the problem of students dropout in rural schools is serious enough to warrant the Education Ministry to target to turn 431 of the 936 rural primary schools in Sarawak into K-9 Concept schools.

“This is in stark contrast to Jabu’s comments that the state government will apply for just one or two more of the K-9 school if the concept proved to be effective.

“This lackadaisical attitude towards education in the state was perpetuated in the recent comments from Joseph Entulu, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department with regards to scholarships allocated for Sarawak and Sabah but which was instead taken up by students from Peninsular Malaysia.

“Entulu’s comment is not new. We highlighted the scholarship problems in 2009.

“We have many times highlighted issues affecting our education system, in particular about the woeful state our school facilities and we echo the calls by STU (Sarawak Teachers Union) for the government to get the fundamentals right – sufficient, safe and reliable facilities, sufficient numbers of trained teachers, access (decent roads) to schools, clean water supply, internet connectivity and sufficient per student food allocation.

“Some of the factors mentioned here contribute directly to the very high students dropout rate said to be 4 students out of every 10 in rural primary schools.

“Once again we call upon the state government and in particular Jabu, as the highest ranking Dayak leader to take a more proactive role in developing education particularly in the rural areas in the state,” he said.

Tumek said while it is understood that education is a federal matter, much of the problems linked to education were state issues.

“Education facilities must be supported by components like roads and even communication towers (to facilitate internet connectivity). The state has very important roles to play.

“We would like to remind both our state and federal government leaders, that they are in power largely due to the support of the rural constituencies and the government must now reciprocate by ensuring that our education system is primed to fulfill the aspirations of our children,” he said.


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