KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman says the RM1 billion from Putrajaya to repair dilapidated schools in the state is the biggest allocation the state has ever received for such a purpose.
He said the allocation backs up the state government’s efforts to uplift education.
“I am grateful for the allocation, especially since this is the allocation we have been waiting for,” he said after a state-level educational professionalism talk and an early school assistance programme in Libaran, Sandakan, today.
Parti Warisan Sabah president Shafie Apdal, had recently suggested that the state government was not doing enough for education.
Shafie had said that some schools in Sabah were so financially-strapped that they needed assistance from their parent-teacher associations.
The former Umno vice-president had also mocked Barisan Nasional’s contribution of school bags to children, saying there was no point in having modern communications in cities when rural schools remain dilapidated with parents not being able to even afford basic items for their children.
Musa did not refer to such criticisms but explained that the RM1 billion will be spent on repairing dilapidated schools using the industrialised building system (IBS) method to replace existing wooden structures.
The programme, which will be carried out in two phases, will see RM500 million spent this year in four districts, namely Sandakan, Beluran, Telupid and Kinabatangan, with the remaining RM500 million to be spent next year.
Musa said the huge allocation showed the state and the federal government are committed towards education.
“On the state government’s part, we will ask for whatever there is to help develop Sabah so that our children will continue to thrive,” he said.
Musa, who is also Sungai Sibuga assemblyman, said the government was not only concerned about buildings but also the welfare of the students.
He said eligible students get RM100 to help them start their schooling year and free school bags given by the state government.
“Providing school bags to students is meant to help ease the burden of parents. This is our way of helping people because the BN government wants our children to succeed.”
He added that having an education hub in districts will provide easy access to tertiary education for the people without them having to spend a fortune to migrate to other districts.
Furthermore, he said more centres would open soon to train youths in various skills.
Speaking on the recent visit by Prime Minister Najib Razak to interior districts last week, Musa said he was proud to hear of the achievements in the districts.
“When I was the director of Sabah Foundation, we built many hostels in the villages for the benefit of our students.
“Now, these hostels have been taken over by the Education Department and I am happy because this is our mutual responsibility, to provide for our children in schools.”
He also thanked the federal government and the education ministry for the early schooling programme.
“This means a lot to our school children. In Sabah, we were given RM38 million for this which proves the seriousness and commitment of the federal government in supporting education in the country.”
Musa added that the performance of schools in Sabah had improved dramatically over the years, both in the urban and rural areas.
State education director Maimunah Suhaibul said they were working hard to achieve the target of hiring 90% Sabahan teachers and believed this target can be achieved by 2019.
She said at present, 84.1% of teachers in primary schools and 77.7% of teachers in secondary schools in the state were locals.
Last year, she said the department appointed 557 interim teachers, including 334 individuals with an option to teach Islamic education.
The department will be appointing a further 199 interim teachers for secondary schools and 145 for primary schools soon.