KUCHING: A call by Sarawak Chief Minister Adenan Satem for the Federal Government to approve more private English-stream schools to improve proficiency of the language among students has been well received by most quarters.
However, DAP said unless the Sarawak Government makes a more solid commitment, and quickly, the pledge will be mere rhetoric.
“In fact, it only needs a simple resolution in a Cabinet meeting to get licences for private schools approved.
“Such a resolution can be made easily and quickly, especially if it does not involve any costs to the Federal Government,” Sarawak DAP leader Chong Chieng Jen said in a statement today.
On Saturday, Adenan re-affirmed the state government’s support for more English-medium schools to be established.
He was speaking during the 80th birthday celebrations for the head of state, Abdul Taib Mahmud, in the coastal city of Miri.
In a speech, Adenan said there were more than 20,000 fresh graduates in Sarawak who had difficulties getting employed due to their inability to master English.
He added that the Federal Government should “be more practical” like Singapore and other states that have adopted English as the main mode of communication.
Chong said Adenan was “paying lip service instead of taking real action” in matters relating to the development of English education.
“After so much talk about Adenan’s ‘autonomy in education’, he is still talking about applying to the Federal Government to approve more private English-medium schools in Sarawak,” Chong said.
Chong, who is Bandar Kuching MP, pointed out that the state government is dependent on the Federal Government in getting approval for licences for private schools.
“It only shows that all Adenan’s talk about ‘autonomy in education’ is mere hot air and amounts to nothing substantial or concrete.”
Chong alleged that Sarawak BN’s federal ministers have had a poor track record in getting the Federal Cabinet to approve more private schools in Sarawak in their weekly Cabinet meetings.
Sarawak BN has six ministers in the Federal Cabinet, which meets every Wednesday.
Chong said the Sarawak Government must prove its commitment by allocating at least RM500 million in the 2017 state budget for the setting up and operation of English-medium schools in Sarawak.
The Kota Sentosa assemblyman added that unless Sarawak BN takes more concrete steps, it will be merely “spinning stories” and “creating false hopes”.
In the same speech on Saturday, Adenan had also called for more funds from the Federal Government to improve facilities and buildings in schools in the state.
“We are still having schools that ‘jump’ into the river due to erosion, schools without 24-hour electricity supply and students having to walk in the mud.
“After 53 years, such conditions should not exist.”