Monday, January 3, 2011


Would you believe that around late last year, the Sarawak State Education Department has issued an order for Sekolah Menengah (SM) Sains Miri,Bakam Sarawak to be closed; a school of approximately 400 students, and the students transferred to SMK Tinjar, Lapok, Sarawak, which is situated 120 km away? Do you know the reason for the closure of the school and the stupidity of having 400 students dislocated 120km away? Does the State Education Department or for that matter, the Ministry of Education not know the enormous logistical and administrative inconveniences of having 400 new students enrolled into the new school, that may or may not be ready to accept a large enrollment of new students? And what about the resultant inconvenience to be suffered by the students themselves?

Upon reading more of the issue, I realized that the reason for the proposed relocation of students was that some of the classes at SM Sains Miri were found unsuitable and unsafe to be used as classrooms. I guess the classes are in a dilapidated state, and this may be because there was no form of preventive maintenance taken on the classrooms over a protracted period of time. This may cause the classrooms to be left to sheer neglect, and even if the school had requested for funds for maintenance, I suspect the request may have been turned down. And if this assumption of mine is true, then I would like to suggest that the Sarawak State Director of Education resigns immediately. I think he no longer has any more reason to remain the Director.

After much protestation by the school’s Parents Teachers Association and a meeting held with the Education Ministry’s Director General, it was decided that the school be reopened, and temporary classes be hastily constructed, including to use of cabins. This is laughable, and can someone tell me whether cabin makes suitable classrooms? And this reminds me of the former Armed Forces Academy (now known as Universiti Pertahanan Malaysia) where they too had cabins as temporary classrooms, but these are air conditioned cabins. Is the Sarawak Education Department thinking of fixing air condition to the cabins as well?

I suspect that there are similar and larger issues affecting schools in Sarawak, especially those that are in the interior. I do not know if the Minister of Education has ever visited schools in the interior, say in places like Julau, Song, Katibas, Bakalalan, Bario or even Serian. I had seen a number of schools in interior Sarawak during my days in the Army, and I think the conditions of the schools are no better today.

My bit of advice to the Education Minister is that with the General Elections looming, please do make your calls to these isolated schools in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak. You will be surprised that these schools are in dire need of help. After all, it is your responsibility to ensure that students who are the country’s future, are afforded the best possible education, regardless of where and who they are.


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