‘Dilapidated schools: We’ll honour contra loan repayment deal’

Posted on : 10 Mar 2020  Source of News: The Borneo Post

Abang Johari (standing, top left) gives the thumbs-up after performing the earth-breaking for the redevelopment of SK Abang Amin. On his left is Manyin.

SIBU: The Sarawak government will hold up its end of the bargain to pay the remainder of the RM1 billion contra loan repayment agreement to the federal government, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said even though Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) is now part of the federal administration, the state will pay the third and final tranche of RM300 million for the repair and upgrading of dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

“Yes, we will continue with the payment and we have paid RM700 million. We will pay fully according to agreement,” he told reporters after performing the earth-breaking ceremony for the redevelopment of SK Abang Amin in Meradong, Sarikei yesterday.

He said the last tranche is due this June, and will benefit at least 107 schools that would either be partially or fully rebuilt.

Earlier in his speech, the chief minister said the funds for the redevelopment of SK Abang Amin are part of the first tranche of the contra loan repayment, amounting to RM350 million, which was made in August last year.

The amount, he added, is to benefit at least 37 schools identified as in need of repair, with SK Abang Amin and SK Abun Matu in Belaga the first two to be upgraded.

He said works at the two schools are being carried out by the Public Works Department and are scheduled for completion by August next year, adding he also hoped the upgrading of the other schools would be completed by next year at the latest.

On the second tranche of RM350 million which was paid on Feb 7 this year, Abang Johari said the list of dilapidated schools to be upgraded is currently being finalised.

Meanwhile, the chief minister appealed to parents whose children are studying in under-enrolled schools, to consider the proposal of having a centralised school.

He said the idea is to merge smaller, under-enrolled schools into a centralised school complete with boarding facilities.

“That is why we need cooperation from the parents. Merge the smaller schools into a large school. We want teachers to be able to teach effectively and in a conducive environment.

“If the school has say only 10 students, we can enlarge it to be a centralised school and build hostels in the school.”

The redevelopment of SK Abang Amin involves the rebuilding of its pre-school block, teachers’ quarters as well as toilets, at a cost of RM5.2 million, while SK Abun Matu involves the rebuilding of its teachers’ quarters at a cost of RM5.44 million.

Of the 28 dilapidated schools identified in Sarikei, seven fall under the critical category, namely SK Abang Amin, SK Adin, SK Nanga Meluan, SK Nanga Serau, SK Ulu Entaih, SK Ulu Pendanum and SK Ulu Binatang.

Upgrading works for these seven schools involve an allocation of RM60 million.

Among those present at the earth-breaking ceremony were Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin, his assistant minister Dr Annuar Rapaee, State Secretary Datuk Amar Jaul Samion and state education director Dr Azhar Ahmad.