Hornbill Unleashed

December 16, 2013

Double whammy for Sarawak rural schools

Filed under: Education,Human rights,Politics — Hornbill Unleashed @ 12:01 AM
Tags: , , ,

Anna Chidambar

Of late, the Sarawak state education system has been under constant fire with issues ranging from lack of basic facilities, insufficient teachers due to high rate of transfers, accessibility, and connectivity.

In terms of social and economic implications, the state’s inadequate education system has become a major concern especially when education authorities have gone on record acknowledging that dilapidated schools in rural Sarawak are very common.

Now to add to rural school woes is that only two rural schools in Sarawak have been categorised as excellent while 110 are average and 12 have been categorised as below average.

Presently out of the 184 secondary schools (SMK) in Sarawak 119 SMKs are located in the rural-urban and rural areas and are categorized as rural SMK by the Ministry of Education (MOE).

Local activist Boniface Willy Tumek who is a PKR Mas Gading branch committee member stated that secondary schools in Malaysia were graded through a ‘Band’ system based on the achievements of students in the PMR and SPM examinations.

Based on achievement of students in the two public examinations in 2012 only two SMKs excelled while 66% of SMKs in Sarawak are average or below the average category.

“The social and economic implications are enormous and people need to be aware of the consequences. Among them are the inability to find jobs and lack of opportunities to get scholarships, at the end of the day what you will see is a huge section of the population that is denied the opportunity to get good education which is the foundation needed to progress in society economically and socially.

“Of course when you have a big section of the population that is uneducated and cannot find something meaningful to do economically then you will have the inevitable social problems coming along,” he said.

Boniface, an economist added: “The rural people in Sarawak are besieged in terms of land, opportunity to better themselves in terms of education and even not allowed to further their prospects.”

According to Noel Changgai Bucking, former State Planning Unit assistant director who left the civil service in 2009 and joined PKR, there doesn’t seem to be a 1Malaysia outlook for our government today in Putrajaya.

“First the infrastructure development has been lagging and thus mobility and integration with different regions in Sarawak which is bigger than Semenanjung has been affected and in terms of economic development definitely we will be disadvantaged.

“It is very clear, when we have applied for infrastructure development such as roads, ports and airport and federal funding wasn’t given. Now the only way to reduce Sarawakians capability to fight for their rights is taxing the education system as it is difficult for people to fight for their rights when not educated.

Detractors of Putrajaya alleged that it reeked of a hidden agenda and backed it up by pointing out that the rural schools in the state have not been allocated proper development funds by the federal government.

Noel said: “If you look at the recent budget for the education segment it concentrated on teachers’ salaries but in terms of real infrastructure development and facilities there is minimum done. For us who look from the other side of the mirror this can be deduced as a subtle attack on our communities in Sarawak as a whole.

Observers concurred that the sentiments on the ground reflected the thought that the federal government wanted to maintain its hold on the state especially when the communities in the state are academically, economically and infrastructure wise subservient.

“I know the education department has been submitting a lot of proposals to the federal government for school development and for human capital in terms of teachers but year after year it was not looked into. We are not talking about five or ten years, I believe this has been happening for the last three decades.

“In any development you can do social engineering through new economic policies to give certain quarters the edge, now it is all about meritocracy, if you are good you will get a scholarship, even in this Sarawakians are being sidelined.

“At one point in time the education system implemented a quota model, now it’s based on meritocracy, when you want to implement a proper system to stabilize economic regions both quota and meritocracy must come hand in hand concurrently, otherwise the target of balance between Sarawak, Sabah and West Malaysia can never be met,” Noel added.

A senior educator said: “Currently a majority of the scholarships based on merit are taken up by West Malaysians as students here cannot compete because the education system in the state is far behind.

Perhaps in anticipation of further uproar on the status of the education system in Sarawak, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who is also Education Minister announced in October that the Education Department directors in East Malaysia would have a bigger role to play, especially in expediting the implementation of approved education infrastructure projects in both states.


  1. Scholarships all snatched by West Malaysian. How many Sarawakian/non-Malays are in the scholarship panel of prominent government agencies like Yayasan, MARA, JPA , Yayasan Tunku ABdul Rahman and the like. KULITIFICATION rather than QUALIFICATION is the order of the day in Malaysia.

    Comment by I am Right — December 18, 2013 @ 5:28 AM | Reply

  2. It is such pity when anyone of us start to allow our opinion to characterize other people in a negative light. Whatever,and whenever the contributors wrote in this column, they are trying in their best opinion and intellectual capacity to give the latest development of what has happened to our society. Is it degrading and ascending ? As for me I did not see any positive development instead we are seeing a hallmark of a failed state. Socio-economic,education and everything else are slowing down into the abyss. Thus, we need more contributors. There is no Nelson Mandela in Sarawak yet but let us embrace the like of Noel, Willy and notable to ourselves who penned down our comments. Is it not an intellect way that a person coined an idea and later we all penned down the likes and dislikes to the article. Baru and See are the current masters but Willy and Noel are the masters on their own and who know they will become master of all in the near future. We will be a year wiser in a few more days to come.

    Comment by in reality — December 17, 2013 @ 10:24 AM | Reply

  3. I have not seen a Malaysian cabinet minister, apart from Sarawak ministers, stringing a complete and flawless sentence in English. They will normally say ” …… students like to ponteng from class”. You ask ten cabinet ministers in Malaysia, eight could not find the English word for ponteng. Many ministers could not differentiate between pedalaman and pendalaman. Boniface and Noel are both PKR members, i.e. opposition. Among the opposition members I only listen to Baru Bian and See Chee How. Ali Biju has a good tendency to crossover. Boniface and Willy are extreme lightweight that they better shut up ……

    Comment by i knowit all — December 16, 2013 @ 1:37 PM | Reply

  4. Like certain MCA leaders used to say, “A fish starts to rot from the head down”. This aptly describes the education in the country. Year after year we continue to slide down the ladder of excellence. And this is compounded by an education minister who is openly racist with his coterie of educationists who share their boss’ view and who behave like kampung idiots. As I said before, no point complaining because nothing will change for the better as long as there are people who continue to vote for BN. If anyone’s to blame it’s them.

    Comment by apai — December 16, 2013 @ 9:00 AM | Reply

    • Yes, Tun Dr Ling’s motto: Fish X…XX…..XX….XX…..XX,originally Bodohland was a kampong, now it goes back to kampong, due to natural cause by those kampong otak, this is life.

      Comment by tiuniamah — December 16, 2013 @ 7:27 PM | Reply

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