The autonomy advocacy group, Sarawak For Sarawakians (S4S), held a protest outside the Sarawak Education Department headquarters here today calling on the Federal Government to bolster funding for schools.
A group of 20 protesters, led by Chan Chee Hiong, staged an hour-long protest outside the department’s premises starting at 2pm.
Half a dozen police officers monitored the situation although no action was taken against the protesters.
S4S said they had informed the police prior to staging the protest.
“We are here to show our support for Adenan’s call for more funding for Sarawak’s schools.
“It is in line with our push for more autonomy,” said Chan.
He was referring to a statement made by Chief Minister Adenan Satem, who lamented that schools in the state lagged decades behind in terms of infrastructure and quality, compared to those in the peninsula.
Adenan also wanted more Sarawakian teachers hired by the education ministry.
S4S spokesperson Peter John Jaban, who was present, said rural schools in particular should be upgraded to be on a par with urban schools as students from low income families were being left behind.
“If you were to go to the rural areas, you will see the schools there, how they are.
“The rich here can send their children to (private schools) for tuition. The poor cannot afford it; they all can’t speak English. This is very unfair.”
Peter said the ruling government must keep its promises.
“We also demand for a better education system for Sarawak. Not to say it’s not good, but it’s not enough.
“We need more funds from the Federal Government.
“We feel that we are being cheated by the Federal Government. Before the state elections, they said they want to do this, they want to do that. Now, apa ada?”
S4S also demanded that English be used in teaching, arguing that the state had the right to do so under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
It also wanted Sarawakian history included as part of the school syllabus.
On Wednesday, Adenan said he was “sick and tired” of asking the Federal Government for more funds to develop schools in Sarawak that were in a bad state.