THE Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research will target to build a new school or upgrade existing schools in every rural constituency under the RM1 billion funding from the federal government.
Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin said 210 out of the 415 dilapidated schools in Sarawak will be rebuilt or upgraded under the special funding of RM1 billion recently announced by the Prime Minister in the federal Budget 2018.
“We hope to implement the rebuilding or upgrading of these schools under the RM1 billion in 2018 and 2019.
“On behalf of the state government, I would like to put on record that we are extremely grateful to the Prime Minister for allocating RM1 billion for us to address the problems of dilapidated schools, for this huge sum of money has never been allocated before,” he said in his ministerial winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly yesterday.
He said the other 205 dilapidated schools will be rebuilt or upgraded under the present 11th Malaysia Plan.
On another matter, he said the ministry together with Sarawak Education Department had identified 357 low enrolment schools across the state that could be merged into 126 centralised schools.
He, however, informed the august House that the merging of schools and the final number of centralised schools created would depend on the outcome of engagement with affected communities, and he appealed to the assemblypersons to support the effort and explain the benefits to their constituents.
He said low enrolment schools receive lower budget allocation, resulting in lack of necessary facilities, resources and poor maintenance, no competitive environment for students and teachers have to teach subjects they are not trained for, which result in poor performance.
“For the information of Ahli- Ahli Yang Berhormat, for the past three years, Sarawak has been ranked poorly in public examinations. In UPSR, Sarawak was ranked 14th, 15th and 15th in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively. In SPM, Sarawak was ranked 15th out of 16 for 2014, 2015 and 2016,” he said.
He also stressed that among the main reasons for the centralisation of schools being actively pursued is to increase enrolment of science stream students.
He disclosed the current enrolment of science stream students is now only 23 per cent, and this is of serious concern because 80 per cent of jobs created by Industrial Revolution 4.0 will be science and engineering based.