Published on: Sunday, January 20, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: Chinese primary schools (SJKC) in Sabah can expect a bigger "Ang Pow" surpassing last year's RM9.35 million from the Government this year, right after the Chinese New Year celebration.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Wee Ka Siong, who is in charge of government fund distribution to Chinese schools, said the amount to be provided to the 65 Chinese primary schools in the State this year would be very significant.
"For Sabah, this time around, we will give more funding. A very significant increase. I have the figure but I cannot say it now because we still need to wait until all the processes have completed and for the final confirmation," he said, after chairing a meeting of the Sabah Chinese School Development Committee at the Pacific Sutera, Saturday.
Last year the Government through the Education Ministry gave altogether RM9.35 million to the 65 schools in Sabah, excluding the 15 Chinese Mission schools which received separate funding.
Saturday's meet, which was also attended by Assistant Minister to the Chief Minister and Sabah MCA Chief Datuk Edward Khoo, was meant to finalise the list.
Dr Wee, who is also MCA Youth Chief, said the Ministry is now processing the applications submitted by all the schools, while waiting for a few which have yet to submit theirs. The Government priority for funding this year would be on solving problems of schools which have been declared as unsafe as well as flood-affected schools.
"Some applied for funding to solve their unsafe buildings problem and only one received from a flood-affected school in Beaufort.
"So this time around I want to see all the schools which have such problems to be given sufficient money to do repairs," he said, confident that with this funding the Government would resolve so-called unsafe school buildings.
We are going to demolish and replace with new ones. But I think there are only a few such schools in Sabah. I don't want to even have one school declared unsafeÉeven if we need to spend half a million ringgit or more, it is okay as long as the school is safe," he said.
"We need to make sure the students are safe. We want to resolve this once and for all."
The second category would be for major repair/maintenance on the roof, beams, columns, toilet repairs, sewerage system, etc, and thirdly on the extension of classrooms.
"But (for the extension of classrooms) it does not include school halls and air-conditioning installations because we do not have that budget.
"For some urban areas we really need to build more classrooms because, as I understand, some of the schools have more than 2,000 students.
We need to really plan ahead in view of the population growth in the particular areas," he explained.
Asked if there had been any abuse of such funding previously, Dr Wee said it was insignificant. "I will not use the word abuse. Maybe it is because of human error, maybe they just have to much things to do and therefore forgotten about it, so this serve as a reminder to them," he said.
"The school recipients concerned may have forgotten after receiving some RM100,000 or RM200,000 fund from us so we have to be careful.
We have the authority to check and we can send our teams to check from time to time," he added.
"I would tell to them that this (government funding) is not a fixed deposit (to earn interest). If they do not spend the money MOE will be not happy.
So this is a very unique systemÉI give you the money so you better spend the money.
"If the schools have a valid reason, like say the local authority has yet to issue the development/building plan to them, they can always write to the MOE to inform about it and say the date when they can start work," he said.
The Ministry is also keeping a record.
"Every month we will be receiving reports from all the schools which received fund from the Government through the Ministry and the schools are duty bound to report on the money given to them and how it was spent," he said.
"All the money given must be accounted for. So we do it in a very transparent manner," he said.
DR Wee expects no more shortage of trained teachers at Chinese primary schools this year.
He said the Ministry has already recruited trained interim teachers for Chinese primary schools last month to undergo 15 courses during the school holiday.
"From Sabah there are 23 of the teachers who get it. And recently we sent 54 (new postings) to Sabah.
So, all in all we have 78. Once we recruited these teachers it means there are part of our staff," he said.
The Federal Cabinet has set up a committee to look into and address the Chinese school teacher shortage issue in the country on Feb. 22 last year.
"And after 10 months of dialogue with the stakeholders concerned, we have finally resolved the shortage.
This year we probably have resolved this issue," he said, while thanking Deputy Prime Minister cum Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin for having approved the recruitment of 728 trained interim teachers plus graduate teachers formerly trained to teach at secondary schools for the purpose.
"So in terms of the number of teachers for Chinese primary schools, we have already achieved 100 per cent," said Dr Wee.