Thursday, July 24

Education funds for rural schools

The RM3.9 billion under the 9MP as recently announced by the Prime Minister in order to provide 24-hour supply of electricity and water to rural schools in Sarawak and RM1 billion for rural students as announced by the Education Minister should help to raise the standard and quality of education in the rural areas.

We all know that there are many disadvantages for rural schools: communication problems, lack of accommodation, poor study environment, poor facilities and equipment, shortage of text books and lack of discipline to name a few.

Adding to the woes of the rural schools is that low-grade teachers and even untrained ones are sent to rural schools. It is not uncommon for some teachers to resign as they cannot adapt themselves to conditions in the rural areas. Communications to schools in Ulu Baram, Ulu Batang Rajang and Ulu Katibas, for example, often take days and even weeks passing through dangerous rapids.

Replacements for such teachers are difficult to get, resulting in many classes without teachers for weeks.

As a result of these problems, the performances of the students in rural schools cannot expect to be better, even if there are bright students. Nor can they compete with students who study in urban schools where there are plenty of good facilities like libraries, laboratories, computers as well as having experienced and specialist teachers.

Thousands of students from rural schools each year cannot further their education and are forced to drop-out because of their poor performances in public examinations. It is not their faults, nor the faults of their parents. But it is more on the faults of the government.

It is interesting to note that the Federal Government especially the Ministry of Education has given top priority to solve these problems that have been plaguing almost all primary and secondary schools in the rural areas of Sarawak and Sabah by providing RM3.9 billion and RM1 billion for rural students.

We agree with the government that urgent steps must be taken now to solve these problems. Failure to do this may see an influx of youths migrating from the countryside to the bright lights of urban centres. Armed with little skills, these youths could pose juvenile problems like the use of ecstasy pills, taking drugs, “lepak” and “bohsia”. Indeed these semi-illiterate youngsters are not only a waste of manpower, but can also become a “time bomb” in our society.

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