YB: Sabah’s poor education ranking demands solution
Published on: Tuesday, November 19, 2019
By: Larry Ralon
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KOTA KINABALU: The poor rankings of the State Education Department, Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) and Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) were brought up in the State Legislative Assembly sitting Monday. 

Usukan Assemblyman Datuk Japlin Akim, in voicing out his frustration, said it is already known that Sabah has been the most backward annually in terms of education achievement, where the Sabah Education Department is ranked last among the 16 state education departments. 

He said this is to the extent that the Sabah Education Department has come up with a slogan of “Say No To 16”, although the department and the teaching community in the State have been working very hard to improve education performance and achievement. 

“I noticed it myself how heavy is the task and sacrifice made by our teachers in Sabah. They sacrifice energy, time and sometimes money just to up our education achievement. There are just so much sacrifices made by the teaching fraternity in Sabah.         

“But, unfortunately, although they have been working so hard, the State’s education performance and achievement is still at the last position,” he said when debating the 2020 State Budget.

Japlin said based on the briefings and discussions with the teaching fraternity as well as visits to schools, it was found that there were many problems affecting the State’s education performance.

“These include lack of administrative staff especially in certain sectors, lack of teachers especially for certain subjects, lack of classroom until causing cramps in the available classrooms, a great number of dilapidated and unmaintained schools, lack of Internet facility and access causing difficulty to teachers and students, and lack of full boarding schools where there are only two full boarding schools in Sabah, in Lahad Datu and Tuaran. 

“We are lagging far behind if compared to Negeri Sembilan which has eight full boarding schools. The poor ranking, I believe, has been caused by all the problems I have mentioned,” he said. 

“It is time for the State Government and Sabah Education Department to demand the Federal Government to speed up solution to all the said problems, including building more full boarding schools for smart students in the State. 

“This is important so that smart Sabahan students can continue to excel without any problems hampering them,” he added. 

Japlin also proposed that the Education and Innovation Ministry be given a bigger allocation, and its roles and functions be strengthened, in the State’s long-term effort to produce knowledgeable human capital. 

He said the Ministry should not only function to organise courses and seminars but also be given power to maintain the schools in Sabah. 

“Wouldn’t it be good if the Ministry has an allocation that can be channelled through the elected representatives for small repairs in schools in their respective constituencies? This will enable the Ministry to play a role in assisting in boosting education excellence in Sabah,” he said. 

Japlin said he was also frustrated with UMS being ranked 20th among the universities in Malaysia, at the 274th position in Asia and within the 801-1,000 ranking in the world. 

“Although we are happy that UMS is said to be among the beautiful campuses in the country, it is sad that it is lagging in terms of excellence,” he said, adding UiTM Sabah, which was built in 1973, was also lagging in terms of its achievement. 

He said another situation that makes people not comfortable is that there are many school leavers in Sabah, whether qualified or not, who did not choose to take science and engineering study courses because they are lacking in their academic achievement. 

“This is while the employment market wants more graduates from the technical field than social sciences,” he said, while urging the Education and Innovation Ministry to take action to improve all the facilities needed to achieve educational excellence in the State.      

In another development, Japlin said he received complaints from owners of land and houses affected by the construction of the Pan Borneo Highway, which also passes through his constituency, who still did not receive the compensation that they should receive.

“Apart from that, I have also received grouses from people whose houses were damaged by the vibrations from the big lorries involved in the Pan Borneo construction. It caused cracks on their houses and this has not been given attention by the authorities concerned,” he said. 

He said the lorries used in the highway construction have also caused damage to the Kuala Abai bridge, which raised concern among the people who are worried about their safety when crossing the bridge. 

“It is wise for the project developer and relevant authorities to take immediate action to repair or find an alternative before something bad happens. We don’t want such issues to ruin the people’s perception on the State and Federal governments. 

“We also do not want to be accused of denying the rights of the landowners or suppressing them, just because we want to accomplish the big project,” he said.


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