KUCHING: Sarawak is in danger of not achieving its target of having 90 per cent local teachers in the state by 2018 after it was announced that three teaching colleges will be closed down, state officials said.
Minister for Welfare, Women and Community Wellbeing Fatimah Abdullah , who also oversees education in Sarawak, complained she was not consulted on the closure which will leave IPG Batu Lintang as the only full-fledged teachers’ training college in the state.
Institut Pendidikan Guru (IPG) Miri, IPG Rejang and IPG Samarahan are the three colleges in Sarawak which will be closed down as announced by Prime Minister Najib Razak in his Budget 2017 speech last week.
Nine teaching colleges nationwide would be converted into polytechnic and vocational colleges.
“We were not consulted on the matter. All directors (of IPG in Sarawak) were called and briefed in Kuala Lumpur,” Fatimah told the Borneo Post.
“Our immediate concern is how it’s going to affect the directors, lecturers and current trainees and our state’s target of 90:10.”
Fatimah first learnt of the “fate” of the nine teaching colleges on the sidelines of the International Conference on Education in Miri recently.
Still, she said, there appears to be some confusion on the situation of the three colleges in Sarawak.
“It’s learnt that IPG Miri would train teachers in ethnic studies with specific emphasis on the Penan, and IPG Rejang would focus on Iban studies,” she said. “IPG Samarahan would help develop those already in the teaching profession.”
IPG Samarahan no longer takes in trainee teachers.
The Minister, in welcoming Putrajaya’s emphasis on developing a skilled workforce in Sarawak, feels this should be done without closing down teaching colleges.
Sarawak Teachers’ Union president Jisin Nyuk echoed Fatimah’s comments.
“The Federal Government is making it hard for us,” he said. “We don’t have enough IPGs and yet they are taking them away from us.”
Without the three teachers training colleges, he warned, “we can’t achieve the 90:10 policy by 2018″.
One teachers’ training college, he added, would not be enough for Sarawak. “Look at the size of Sarawak. We need more teachers’ training colleges.”
He urged Putrajaya to abort this plan, adding that this matter should have been discussed with the colleges concerned.