Ongkili, who is Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister, thanked SP Setia for making the building of the rural hostel part of its community project, thus easing the burden of about 80 pupils who can now reside at the hostel within the school compound.
"Some of the pupils are from feeder villages which are far away and involve a daily two-hour walk to school.
"It is through such partnership with organisations and the private sector like SP Setia Foundation that we can make a big difference in the lives of children, by giving them better access to education.
"The role of the private sector is indeed valuable because we need to take all efforts to provide for the people's education needs by complementing the government's efforts," he said.
Stressing on education as key to the development of the community, Ongkili said that it is through education that the people's lives and socio-economic status can be improved, and therefore access to education is crucial.
With the completion of the SK Matunggong hostel, there are now seven rural hostels built in the Kota Marudu parliamentary constituency through the private sector and NGO funding, while another three are in the process of being built by the Albukhary Foundation which has set aside RM1million for the rural hostels.
"This is the approach we are taking in Kota Marudu to ensure the children benefit from this comfort that will enable them to attend classes, eliminate absenteeism, reduce dropouts and excel rather than being hindered by obstacles which may hamper their academic performance," Ongkili added.
He also announced that Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who is also Education Minister, has approved a special allocation of RM500,000 from the Implementation Coordination Unit to help fund the construction of Tadika Khoi Ming's new building in Kota Marudu, which will cost a total of RM2 million to build.
In another development, Ongkili said that in the continuous effort to develop education in Kota Marudu the Super Grade A Student programme initiated by him for district, will also be extended to the Matunggong sub-district whereby UPSR pupils in rural schools there will receive RM100 for each A they score.
Meanwhile, Lee said SP Setia Foundation was touched by the plight of the pupils who had to travel on foot and he expressed confidence that the hostel would provide them with a better environment to focus on their studies as class attendance would improve.
"'Education is equally important for rural children and SP Setia is happy to be involved in such a noble initiative.
In fact, this is the first time SP Setia Foundation is sponsoring a rural hostel which goes to prove our commitment towards improving the lives of the communities including in Sabah," he said.
He added that foundation's work includes focus on education through the Setia Adoption Programme founded in 2000 to fund the educational needs of underprivileged students nationwide, beginning with primary school and later extended to secondary schools in 2004 and tertiary students in 2009.
The partnership to provide for the needs of the pupils of SK Matunggong thus, is in line with the objectives of the Setia Adoption Programme, he said.
Also present were Sabah Education Department's Datu Jamigul Datu Salin, SP Setia Foundation Chief Executive Officer Captain (rtd) Datuk Liew Siong Sing, school headmaster Abdul Kahar Awang Yahya, teachers and pupils.