Tripartite committee to manage RM1b fund for dilapidated schools

08 May 2019 / 15:26 H.

KUCHING: A tripartite committee comprising the Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education (MOE), and Sarawak government would be established to manage the RM1 billion fund to fix dilapidated schools and to oversee the project.

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong said the decision for the fund to be placed into a special account (vault) and not into the Federal Consolidated Fund was made during a meeting between Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik and the Chief Minister here on April 24.

“Maszlee said the MOE and the federal government acknowledged our concerns regarding the decision to pay the money to the Federal Consolidated Fund and for it to be disbursed through the annual budget.

“During this meeting, he made some proposals to break the impasse,” he said in his winding-up speech for his ministry in the State Legislative Assembly sitting here today.

The other proposals are on the procurement process to be managed by the State-Federal Tender Board and Sarawak Public Works Department (PWD) as the implementing agency.

He said an agreement would also be signed between the federal and Sarawak governments to ensure the RM1 billion paid as contra payment for a federal loan, is spent only on dilapidated schools in the state.

On federal allocation, Manyin said the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has allocated RM100 million in 2019 to repair and upgrade 32 schools with the project expected to start in July and completed by year’s end.

“The management of these projects is directly under MOE, with PWD Sarawak as the implementing agency.” he said, adding that two major issues faced by Sarawak were dilapidated school and low enrolment schools.

According to the Sarawak Education Department in 2017, he said 1,020 out of the total 1,457 schools in the state were identified as dilapidated schools and since then, a lot of efforts had been done to upgrade them by the federal and state governments.

On low enrolment school defined as a school with less than 150 students, he said 651 out of 1,265 primary schools were identified as low enrolment schools by the Education Planning and Research Division of MOE.

He said based on the initial estimation, 357 of the current low enrolment schools could be merged into 126 centralised schools based on the criteria of having consent from the parents, site availability, road accessibility, boarding facilities and access to public facilities.

Manyin said the onus was also on the Sarawak government and Sarawak Education Department to execute successfully as the first state, the implementation of the teaching of Science and Mathematics in English, however, challenges such as the training of teachers needed to resolved first. — Bernama

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