The conditions in Bau’s oldest secondary school, SMK Bau, are so deplorable that it is a threat to the safety of its 1,990 students, especially its 550 boarders.
Two blocks of hostels, housing mainly Form 1 male students, are found to be in wretched conditions with almost all the doors broken and without locks. Some of the rooms are without lighting.
“The hall ways and the staircases are without lights and borders will experience considerable difficulties if they have to make night-time visit to the lavatories which are located away from the hostels,” said Boniface Willy Tumek, PKR committee member of Mas Gading division.
Tumek, who visited the school two days ago, said that exposed and faulty wirings in these hostels are clearly visible and the hostel warden had written warnings next to these exposed electrical wirings to warn students of the danger.
“Some of the exposed wirings are located a mere two to three feet away from the top bunkers and from the head or feet of those students occupying the top bunkers.
“At the time of my visit to these hostel blocks, some concerned parents were doing their own repairs to the bunkers and the lockers,” he said.
Tumek said most of the students are from poor rural families who want their children to get a good education so that they can eventually break out of the poverty cycle.
“It is for that reason that the families are prepared to make the difficult decision of asking their children to leave the safety of their home and move to boarding houses.
“Unfortunately, the poor conditions at these hostels have become a source of great concern for the parents,” Tumek said, adding that another hostel block was uninhabitable and had to be completely sealed off.
As a result, the school had to scale back on the numbers of student borders this year.
“The school originally had places for 650 boarders but we’ve been forced to scale down to 550 students.
“This means about 100 students who are eligible for hostel accommodation at SMK Bau had to be sent to other schools, causing additional burdens to their families,” said Tumek, who is himself a former student of the school.
Ministry has no money
Meanwhile, the school administrators had admitted that it had been grappling with these problems for many years now.
Numerous submissions by the school to the Education Ministry for funds to enable them to do repairs and maintenance have been unsuccessful.
They had been informed by the ministry that it did not have any allocation for repairs and maintenance of school facilities.
The school authorities had also sought the assistance of the MP for Mas Gading Tiki Lafe and Tasik Biru state assemblyman Peter Nansian, but they too have not been able to assist the school.
“Our PKR division views these problems very seriously. If left unsolved, these problems will affect the academic performances of the students which in turn will lead to serious long-term social and economic problems for the affected families.
“We also call upon the elected representatives in the Bau and Lundu districts to look into these problems.
“The people they have pledged to serve should not be deprived of any of the basic necessities like decent schools, healthcare, clean piped-water, and electricity…” he said.