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Friday, April 2, 2010

Be fair with allocations for schools

EARLY this year, the Education Ministry identified 20 high performance schools under SBT (Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi) category and proposed an increased allocation of RM700,000.

Many of these selected schools are already established in the smart school category and equipped with various facilities for use by the small number of students and teachers. There are now facilities provided for exceptional or gifted children under the ‘Permata Pintar’ programme.

In this new century, we should ensure zero and near zero failing rates in schools. No child should be denied an education, be they good, bad or under privileged.

The ministry should provide equal number and type of facilities for rural and city schools. The real challenge is to ensure that all schools are provided with up-to-date equipment and amenities to sustain the many interests of students from different backgrounds and beliefs.

The ministry must show fairness in giving grants or additional allocations. For example, one of the SBT schools is the Kuala Kangsar Malay College which already has a swimming pool, five fields, badminton, basketball and tennis courts while the school that my sons go to has one field shared by both primary and secondary schools and no swimming pool or tennis courts. What is the justification to make existing smart schools super schools?

The countless deserving students in so many rural areas who badly need to get the chance to go to these SBT schools are unable to because the competition for places is tough.

For example, in SMK Seri Puteri there were more than 3,000 applications for about 150 places for first formers in 2009. The location of these SBT schools are far from many

kampung and parents with financial constraints will get to see their children only during the school holidays.

There are many corners in West Malaysia, Sarawak and Sabah where schools lack proper labs, toilets, halls and even adequate number of classrooms.

The students have to walk, cycle or take boats to get to school. The RM700,000 will go a long way to improve the conditions of these schools. Don’t these students deserve to have better schools closer to their kampung?

According to the ministry’s 2009 report, there are 7,664 primary schools and 2,214 secondary schools. The total student population is 5.4 million, of which about 2.3 million are in secondary schools.

Twenty out of 2,214 reflect 0.9% and with an average of 650 students for each school out of 2.3 million, it represents only 0.6% who get to have the best of the best in these SBT schools. What about the needs of 2,194 schools that cater for 99.4% of students?

Recently, there were announcements that more schools can be selected to be in the SBT category. And the pressure is on all schools to perform better.

Thus, the principal of my sons’ school created extra classes after school hours i.e. 2.30pm for normal classes and 4.30pm for agama classes. My sons are in school from 7.20am to 4.30pm five days a week. They are exhausted and stressed out by the time they get home.

Preparation for PMR and SPM exams starts from Form One to ensure the highest number of straight A’s scorers to reflect the success rate of the school and be included into the SBT category.

The real definition of education has escaped the mindset of some of these policy makers, principals and teachers. I want my sons to enjoy going to school.



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