If we can afford 3rd national car, we can afford funds for run-down schools, says SUPP rep

Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang says the dropout rate for students in Sarawak is especially high in rural areas. (Bernama pic)

KUCHING: An assemblyman from the Sarawak United People’s Party has urged the Pakatan Harapan government to disburse the funds promised by the former Barisan Nasional administration for the repair of dilapidated schools in the state.

Batu Kitang rep Lo Khere Chiang said the government had a duty to maintain such schools as the safety of teachers and students should be of utmost importance.

“If we can afford a third national car project, surely we can ensure that our children enjoy a safe and conducive learning environment in all our schools,” he told FMT.

He also called on Education Minister Maszlee Malik to stop “pointing fingers” in the matter as all government schools in Sarawak are under the purview of the federal government.

“Funds must be swiftly and effectively channelled to rebuild all dilapidated schools across the nation, especially in Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.

He warned that inconsistent funding would inconvenience school authorities and impede their administration.

Lo Khere Chiang.

“Give our children the tools, the amenities, the teachers and the resources they need to succeed in life,” he said, adding that dilapidated schools were one of the contributing factors to the school dropout rate in Sarawak.

He said the dropout rate was especially high in rural areas, and that other factors including poverty could not be ruled out.

Lo, who is also chairman of the Padawan municipal council, claimed the education system in Sabah and Sarawak had been tainted by the centralisation of power and politics.

He added however that such situations could also be seen in other places around the world.

“A change of government usually means a change of educational policies,” he said. “Sometimes it is for the better, and sometimes it is for the worse.”

In Malaysia, he said, the education system had suffered from constant changes to suit the political and social scenario.

“Even the teachers are unable to get accustomed to the present system,” he added.

He referred to Finland, which he said had the best education system in the world.

Adding that it took Finland about 40 years to get its education system on the right track, he compared this to the situation in Malaysia.

“What have we done in Malaysia in the last 40 years?

“We have gone from having a very good public education system where the average student had a more-than-confident grasp of the English language to one in which graduates from local universities are conversant in only the Malay language.

“Do not get me wrong on this. I am insistent that all Malaysians ought to be conversant in Malay, but is it too much to ask of them to include a second or third language as an important part of the curriculum?”