To master English, Sarawak sets up state-owned international school

Abang Johari Openg says international schools will no longer just be for those who can afford it but for any Sarawakian who meets the selection criteria.

KUCHING: Sarawak Chief Minister Abang Johari Openg today said the state government has decided to set up its own international secondary schools to produce competitive students with a good command of the English language.

He said poor command of English had contributed to the unemployment rate among graduates.

“We are not saying the national schools or other languages are not important, but we cannot deny the fact that if we want our children to be competitive at the international level, they have to master English.”

Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony of Sarawak’s first state-owned international school project at Mile 12 of the Kuching-Serian Road here, he said the state was rich in natural resources but lacked talent.

“We cannot rely solely on natural resources to develop our state as we need talent to help us to move forward.”

Abang Johari said the international school would allow excellent students from both rural and urban areas and of all races, even those from the low income families, to compete among themselves.

“International schools will no longer (just) be for those who can afford it but for any Sarawakian who meets the selection criteria.

“By having our own schools, we can avoid flip-flop policies on education and other ‘weird’ decisions from the federal education ministry. For instance, changing the colour of school shoes.

“We have collected RM2.95 billion state sales tax from Petronas and this is how we give back to the people, by building schools for their children as they are our future,” he said.

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Michael Manyin Jawong said the state had proposed a total of five international secondary schools, including two in Kuching, and one each in Sibu, Bintulu and Miri.

He said the first school, which was launched today, was expected to be completed by December 2022 with first enrolment scheduled for early 2023.

Each school, he said, would have about 500 students with 100 students in each level. He added that the state would be hiring retired teachers to teach students using the International General Certificate of Secondary Education by the Cambridge Assessment International Education Board.

“Student selection will be inclusive as long as they are Sarawakians and they meet the selection criteria. However, there will be a quota for students from well-to-do families and they will have to pay the full fees.

“Students from M40 families will receive partial subsidy while students from B40 families will receive full subsidy,” he said, adding that the estimated operations cost for five schools was between RM70 million and RM80 million.