The Sarawak state government will support the formation of English-medium mission and private schools that prioritise education in the world’s lingua franca, Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem said today.
“We are prepared to give support to private and mission schools to pursue this objective and there are already schools which have been approved,” he said in his speech at the 80th birthday celebration of Sarawak Governor Tun Abdul Taib Mahmud here.
The outspoken chief minister said that the state government recognises the need for uniformity that the national education policy is set to achieve, but “uniformity does not necessarily mean unity”.
“We need to have some kind of freedom to be able to do things to suit our needs,” he stressed.
Adenan, who became chief minister in 2014, blamed the national education policy, which purportedly does not give priority to the teaching and learning of English, for the unemployability of between 15,000 and 20,000 graduates in Sarawak.
“They fail to get jobs after their graduation because their command of the English language is weak,” he said.
He said education is one of the state’s rights under negotiation that Sarawak wants to reclaim from the federal government.
“We want to ensure that the education system that we aspire to achieve produces graduates meeting the current needs of the industries as well as the ability to speak a good command of English,” he said.
Adenan also called on universities and colleges in Sarawak to give priority to science, technology and engineering courses so to produce a professional and skilled workforce that is required by industries, especially in the Samalaju Industrial Park in Bintulu.
“We are also facing shortage of graduates from vocational and technical schools because it was not given priority before,” he said, adding that the state government will build more technical schools to meet the demands of the industries for skilled manpower.