KUCHING: Sarawak schools rank a lowly 13 in overall academic level in the nation despite their improvement in the last few years.
This was disclosed by Minister for Education, Science and Technological Research Dato Sri Michael Manyin Jawong yesterday at a press conference at his office here.
Manyin, flanked by Sudarsono and Rakayah, chairs the press conference in his office.
As of today, the state is still ranked number 13 (out of 15) in overall performance of schools. For the past many years, we have been stuck at number 13 and this is attributed to lack of facilities and specialist teachers, he said.
This is because there are too many schools scattered all over the state and many of them have very low enrolment, he added.
Manyin explained that schools with low student enrolment cannot perform well because they lack basic facilities and specialist teachers cannot be posted there.
Schools with 150 students and below are considered as those with low enrolment.
To overcome the problem, these schools should be merged into centralised schools within the area.
Manyin added that parents should opt to send their children to these centralised schools which have better facilities and more staff.
The minister pointed out that it is not cost effective to repair and equip schools with low enrolment scattered across rural areas.
There are 1,454 schools in poor condition throughout Sarawak and out of this figure, 190 are secondary schools.
Of the 1,454 schools 1,020 are considered dilapidated and 434 are in urgent need of repair, he added.
It is not practical for the government to rebuild or repair schools with low students enrolment and which usually perform poorly.
If we can merge and centralise these schools then we do not need to repair many of the schools with low enrolment.
However, attempts to close down these schools were often met with protests, he said.
We have come across local YBs (elected representatives) and parents protesting because a lot of nostalgia, sentiment and pride are attached to schools. So how to convince?
Manyin therefore urged elected representatives and community leaders to persuade parents that closing down schools with low enrolment and merging them into a centralised school within their area will improve the quality of education for their children
Firstly we have to persuade the local elected representatives to go for centralised schools. Then we have to persuade the parents to go for it. If they all go for centralised schools, students can enjoy complete facilities and specialist teachers.
He said he cannot suggest anything to the federal Education Ministry until he had look at a study on the situation which he hoped to get by next month.
After I get the details of the study then we will propose (to the federal Education Minister). I will then personally with the state education director and others meet with the local YBs. If they are okay, then we and the YBs will engage with the parents and we will try to convince them all, he added.
Touching on improving English among students, Manyin said schools are now encouraging teachers and students to communicate in English within the school compound.
Teachers and students are to communicate in the medium of instruction, Bahasa Malaysia, only during formal teaching and learning in the classrooms, he said.
Manyin has directed school headmasters and teachers to communicate in English during assemblies.
We encourage them to use English in assemblies. They may start with greetings students: Salam Negaraku Malaysia; good morning; how are you? And we expect the students to response: Fine Teacher Thank you. For a start we want to have this culture in schools, he said.
SK Ulu Lubai and SK Ba Kelalan in Limbang have started this culture, he revealed.
Manyin said this directive is start immediately as circulars have been sent out to State Education Department as well as local elected representatives including those in the opposition.
Also present at the press conference were permanent secretary to the ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research Datu Sudarsono Osman and State education director Rakayah Madon.
The Borneo Post Online