Adenan Satem said he is “sick and tired” of requesting for more federal funding for Sarawak schools, which he lamented have been in poor condition for too long.
“They ask me, what do we do with our educational policy?
“I give them a very simple answer: build standard schools.
“I am sick and tired of appealing to the Federal Government to provide us better schools,” the Sarawak Chief Minister said today.
He said this when launching the Iban-English Dictionary in Kuching. Present were Deputy Chief Minister Douglas Uggah Embas and former Deputy Chief Minister Alfred Jabu.
Adenan also said he was sick and tired of hearing about schools that collapsed into the river or about them without water supply or electricity.
“If we are behind by 10, 20 years, it’s okay. But if we are still behind by half a century, I cannot tolerate that.
“I cannot tolerate that any more. We must be assertive on our policy on this matter.”
There are close to 470,000 students in Sarawak, with 42,000 teachers attending them as of January, according to the State Education Department. Over half of the students are from rural areas.
In June, a primary school in a fishing village in Spaoh, Betong, collapsed into a river, taking along with it a nursery and a surau. No one was injured.
Local authorities blamed water erosion and the dilapidated condition of the structures. The destroyed school, SK Kampung Buda, was a Malay-medium national school.
By law, the Federal Government oversees the funding and operation of national schools, including teachers’ salaries, school buildings and assets.
Nationwide, three-quarters of over three million primary students are enrolled in over 7,500 national schools, according to the Education Ministry.
Adenan said he accepted diversity within Sarawak’s education system, adding that he wanted more teachers from Sarawak to be hired by the government.
“I am now trying to change some aspects of educational policy in Sarawak. We cannot just follow what is dictated to us, in Kuala Lumpur.
“Uniformity does not necessarily mean unity.
“Diversity can also mean (unity) because we appreciate each other’s way.
“So I hope that starting with our teachers, they will mostly be Sarawakians who teach in our schools.”
Meanwhile, Adenan noted that the Iban language contained many Malay phrases but which were accentuated and pronounced differently.
He also hoped the Iban language does not go extinct like many native languages.