School or politics?

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The photo shows a dilapidated school in rural Sarawak, which the columnist considers a “symbol of inexcusable neglect”. — Photo Bernama

All the while, I’ve taken it for granted that party politics has no place in education in this country. I have always considered education policy as public policy: every child has the human right to a formal education, in addition to the informal education acquired at the family level.

The class, the teacher and the child are at the heart of the learning process. The facilities provided to a school, the salaries of the teacher and a conducive learning environment, are intended to foster the intellectual development of students.

In Sarawak, some 1,000 schools need repairs. It is the primary responsibility of any government to maintain school buildings in good condition.

In 2019, an allocation of RM1 billion has been set aside for this purpose. Yet there are endless delays in carrying out repairs.

The public suspects that there is more here than meets the eye. The sum was allocated by the government of the time in 2019; it was public money and it had to be spent on education.
So what is delaying repair work?

The Covid-19 pandemic? The restrictions caused by the pandemic were unfortunate and some delays were excusable. But is the pandemic being used as a universal excuse for neglect and procrastination?

Or was it a mismatch between federal/state policy?

I got the impression that the relationship between the state and the federal government is good. There is no reason why the state government, a key partner in the coalition of ruling parties, cannot secure the necessary funding for school repairs.

In 2019, an allocation of RM1 billion was made for reparations. The statement made by the Sarawak Bumiputera Teachers Union (KGBS) in The Borneo Post on Saturday, October 23, 2022, indicates how concerned members of the association are about the possibilities of a change of government, especially the change of ministers education.

School policy!

I have to admit, rather naively, that I have stuck to the Cobbold Commission report as a point of reference when discussing education issues in Malaysia. Go back a little further in history. The Brooke Rajahs, in their Nine Cardinal Principles (1941), stated quite clearly that: “…Social and educational services must be expanded and improved.

Well, the Japanese occupation put an end to this program before it even started. Twenty years later, when the British government proposed that Sarawak be merged into a larger federation including Malaysia, the importance of education for the people of Sarawak was emphasized by Commission Chairman Cobbold. In his report, he said: “We agreed that education should be on the federal list, but the integration of federal and state practices should take place gradually after careful study by a task force.

“The UK members, with whom I agree, emphasize the importance of maintaining existing policies regarding the use of English as the language of instruction.”

That’s what I call speaking frankly.

The British members and all the other members, including the Malaysian members of the Commission, all agreed that this must be the situation if Malaysia were to exist.

Then there was a warning from the President: “It is a necessary condition that from the outset Malaysia be considered by all as an association of partners, uniting in the common interest to create a new nation while retaining their individualities. clean. If an idea were to take hold that Malaysia would involve a “taking over” of the territories of Borneo by the Federation of Malaya and the submergence of the individualities of North Borneo and Sarawak, Malaysia would not, in my opinion, generally acceptable. »

Over the years, politicians had made religion part of the political ideology of their parties, whether the people of the Borneo states liked it or not. The politics of religion was NOT considered by the founders of Malaysia. It came later, when religion got mixed up with politics, and it’s a deadly mix!

Simply put, our current education policy is not what the early founders of the Federation envisioned and intended.

Is this the delicate problem for which the funds for the repair of schools are not easy to obtain?

There are arguments for Sarawak having its own education policy without dismantling the entire education system of the country.

Just let Sarawak, and Sabah for that matter, implement an education program that matches the conditions and needs of these two eastern states.

The school buildings definitely need to be repaired as soon as possible, just like the system!






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