READING that Sarawak has formed a special committee for Mission and Chinese Schools was indeed good news and a welcome change in my morning paper.
Mission schools such as the State’s oldest – St. Thomas’ and St. Mary’s, established in 1848 – and Chinese-medium schools have played such an important role in the State’s educational development.
Hey look at the impressive alumni from Mission Schools such as St. Joseph’s, Sacred Heart, St. Elizabeth’s, St. Theresa’s, St. Augustine’s, Methodist, St. Columba’s and many, many more.
Members of the State’s top leadership, prominent entrepreneurs, civil servants and many other community leaders all completed their initial levels of education at Mission Schools.
All ethnic groups, religions, rich or poor. Mission Schools have indeed moulded the lives of many, many Sarawakians and I would like to think played a great part in how Sarawakians have always been able to get along on a different level compared to many in Malaysia, particularly from across the South China Sea.
In many rural villages and towns in Sarawak, Mission or Chinese schools are often the only schools serving the community.
In fact, as many of us know, Chinese-medium schools in many rural areas are often populated by mostly Bumiputera students. The schools have been serving their communities faithfully and not questioned the ethnic origins of their students and pupils. Isn’t that what education is all about?
And all this while these Mission and Chinese schools have merely been AIDED by the government. So while things like teachers’ salaries and utilities are paid for by the government, these schools have to seek their own funding for infrastructure and many other facilities such as ICT equipment.
The principals and heads as well as staff of such schools are often permanent fundraisers as well – actively finding ways to ensure that the doors of such schools remain open to young Sarawakians seeking an education and brighter futures for their families.
This new committee announced by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud will specifically look into the needs of Mission and Chinese Schools.
Headed by DCM Datuk Patinggi Alfred Jabu Numpang, its members will be Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Tan Sri William Mawan Ikom, Minister of Environment and Public Health Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and Minister in the Chief Minister’s Office Datin Fatimah Abdullah.
The Chief Minister is quoted as saying that “if there’s any problem, we at the State-level who know the local conditions very well will try to make the implementation more acceptable to the people we are trying to help”.
The committee will act as a bridge between Mission and Chinese schools and the Federal Government, which is in charge of education. These schools should ideally have a better connection to the Education Ministry and their needs should now be given greater priority.
Let’s make sure that our Mission and Chinese-medium schools get the support they need. It’s the least we can do for the schools which have supported Sarawak for over 160 years.
The Borneo Post’s report:
A helping hand for Mission, Chinese schools
By Samuel Aubrey
Special cabinet committee formed to ensure education policy implemented smoothly
KUCHING: The state cabinet approved the setting up of a special committee to look into the needs of mission and Chinese schools at a meeting chaired by Chief Minister Pehin Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud yesterday.
The committee will be headed by Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Alfred Jabu Numpang, while the members will include Land Development Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing, Social Development and Urbanisation Minister Tan Sri William Mawan, Environment and Public Health Minister Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh and Minister in the Chief Minister’s Department Datin Fatimah Abdullah.
Taib told reporters after the state cabinet meeting yesterday that the committee would hold watching brief to ensure the federal policy on education would be implemented smoothly in Sarawak.
“And if there’s any problem, we at the state level who knows the local condition very well will try to make the implementation more acceptable to the people we are trying to help,” he said.
He also stressed that the state did not set up a unit as education is still a federal responsibility as this could only be done with the consent from the federal government.
Meanwhile, Wong, who had proposed the committee during the meeting, said he was happy its formation was agreed by everybody in the cabinet.
He said this committee would speak up on behalf of Mission and Chinese schools when forwarding requests to the federal government.
“If there’s any problem here, we will forward it to the federal government. Our group will represent the Mission and Chinese schools,” he said.