SIBU: Primary school pupils throughout Malaysia follow a curriculum to acquire basic skills such as reading, writing and arithmetic.
Unfortunately, when it comes to school facilities, there is a great disparity between rural schools and those in the town areas.
Some facilities which are vital for learning might be lacking or not exist at all in the rural schools, thus compromising the quality and standard of education.
Pupils are deprived of proper facilities because their schools are so rundown.
Such conditions might be oblivious to leaders and people in urban areas.
Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Dudong branch chairman Wong Ching Yong, who visited seven of the 13 rural primary schools in Dudong constituency on Nov 25, was in shock with the worrisome situation.
Termites are destroying some schools and some buildings are tilted to one side, he said.
Wong visited SK Batu Wong, SK Assan Nunggang, SK Ulu Durin Kiba, SK Nanga Pak, Sk Sg Durin, SK Tanjung Latap and SK Nanga Assan.
“Every year the schools will receive some funds from the education department, but the fund given is not enough because the condition of the schools is just too bad to be repaired on a piecemeal basis.
“They need a complete overhaul. If you look at the pictures, they are shocking!” Wong told The Borneo Post when met recently.
According to him, SK Batu Wong with seven classrooms is experiencing shortage of classrooms with 156 pupils.
“Now, in the middle of pandemic, the pupils are merely complying with one metre distance because the classrooms are very small,” he said.
He also said that the school has a leaking roof at the student hostel.
Heavy downpour would wet the floor and the school has a serious shortage of beds and mattresses.
“They need 80 sets of mattresses and beds. At the moment, they only have 10 complete sets, the girls have to sleep on the floor with the mattresses,” he said.
Repairs and maintenance are carried out on a piecemeal basis against the background of serious problems caused by termites.
“The building of the pre-kindergarten has become a dangerous building because of termites, causing the building to tilt a bit,” Wong said, adding that the condition of the school’s toilet is not hygienic.
The school also experienced flood problems during heavy downpours.
SK Assan Nunggang with 34 pupils and 10 teachers has no library.
“The facilities for the children to play and learn were simply not in existence at all,” Wong lamented.
The headmaster pointed out to him that a concrete building is the only solution to overcome the problem of termites.
SK Ulu Durin Kiba had to partition some of the classrooms to accommodate the growing number of pupils.
Currently, the school has 77 pupils and 19 kindergarten children.
“They need another building because they expect there will be more pupils for the primary schools and children for the kindergarten,” he said, adding that the schools also had problems with termites.
For SK Nanga Pak, also affected by termites, the school needs a rain-covered hall for an
assembly, he said.
The school has 40 pupils but it has only one 1Malaysia netbook for office work.
The 253 pupils at SK Sg Durin meanwhile need a rain-covered basketball court.
Termites are destroying the girls’ hostel and the roofs and walls of the dining hall.
“Can you imagine leaking in a hostel and the dining hall?” Wong asked.
He also observed that all the wooden buildings at SK Tanjung Latap are severely damaged by termites.
He said the Ministry of Education had built a new building under the concept of Industrial Building System (IBS) but the workmanship was not in accordance with the specifications in the awarded tender.
The tender was terminated by the Minister of Education.
“The new IBS concrete building was left idle for almost two years while the rest of the wooden buildings of SK Tanjung Latap were severely damaged by termites,” he said.
He was informed that the school wanted to move into the new IBS building but it was not possible because the Ministry of Education is still looking for a new contractor to complete it in accordance with the tender.
“That building is important because once it can be used, all the students can move in. There are eight classes, but unfortunately it has become a white elephant project,” Wong lamented.
There are five dilapidated school in Sibu to be rebuilt using IBS.
SK Nanga Assan needs a new school building badly as all the wooden buildings are affected by termites.
The school, which has 107 pupils, serves 13 longhouses nearby and is expecting more pupils next year.
Wong, who is also the deputy chairman of Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC), believes all these seven schools must be rebuilt with concrete buildings.
For now, the schools receive very limited funds from the government which could only be used for repairing works on ad-hoc basis.
In addition to the physical problem there is another serious underlying problem which affects the quality and standard of education for the pupils, he said.
“There is absolutely no WiFi. With this Covid-19 and the school has to be closed early, with no internet connection, the teachers have no access to students at all.
“So, the quality and standard of education is seriously being compromised. All the teachers told me that,” he added.
He would continue to visit the remaining primary schools – SK Sungai Menyan, SK Ulu Sungai Menyan, SK Ulu Sungai Naman, SK Ulu Sungai Sengan, SK Sungai Nibon and SK Ulu Sungai Salim.
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