‘Other schools in the same boat’

Posted on December 6, 2012, Thursday

by Peter Sibon and Lian Cheng, reporters@theborneopost.com.

SK Punan Ba not the only one being neglected — many other schools also facing similar harsh condition

 

Liwan Lagang

KUCHING: While many are crying with disbelief at the pathetic condition of SK Punan Ba in Belaga, Assistant Minister of Culture and Heritage Liwan Lagang sent another wave of shocking news that SK Punan Ba is not the only school in the district which is being neglected.

According to Liwan, who is Belaga assemblyman, many other schools also faced such harsh condition and needed urgent repairs, including the dormitory in Long Busang which was burnt down recently.

He said he had compiled extensive reports of all the schools in the district and had handed them to the Deputy Prime Minister who is also the Minister of Education.

“After the veranda of SK Punan Ba collapsed on January 31, we have informed the Ministry of Education. And not long after that, Deputy Minister of Education Datuk Dr Puad Zarkashi visited the school and promised to look into its plight,” Liwan told The Borneo Post here yesterday.

He added that he had also given carbon copies of his reports to state director of Education, Dr Puad and Senior Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing.

Meanwhile, Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) nominated candidate for Hulu Rajang Wilson Ugak Kumbong has also visited the school, one hour by speedboat from Belaga, on Nov 6.

He brought up the matter to the Chief Secretary to the government Datuk Seri Dr Ali Hamza in Putrajaya on Nov 8.

Ugak had met Ali together with Masing over the matter.

“He (Dr Ali) had agreed in principle to allocate RM2 million for the school. I will continue to communicate with the Education Department to expedite the process of building the dormitory.

“I hope that the Education Department will be able to do something before school starts next year,” he said.

Ugak added that he had also sent a copy of the letter from the chief secretary to the Belaga Education District officer during the Kapit divisional development committee (DDC) meeting last month, chaired by Masing.

“This is not the time to point fingers but instead we should find the best solution to remedy the situation,” said Ugak, who is also the private secretary of Masing.

Belaga district education officer George Bidui said seven days after the verandah of the girls’ dormitory collapsed, a team of officers from the education department visited the school to look for a suitable location to build a new dormitory which would include a dining hall and a food storage place.

“After the parent-teachers’ association (PTA) meeting, it was decided that the new dormitory would be built on the present site.

“The headmaster has been informed by the architect from the Education Ministry that the building plan has been completed,” Bidui said.

However, he pointed out that he had not informed of when the plan would be implemented.

“Both the dormitories for boys and girls have undergone extensive wear and tear.It is now beyond repair and we are not sure if they can sustain the weight of the pupils,” he added.

Regarding the photograph sent to this paper by a concerned parent, Bidui explained that the pupils were actually having a nap in the computer room before the afternoon activities started.

“After the collapse of the verandah of the girls’ dormitory, only Primary Six pupils, numbering about 30, were allowed to stay as boarders.

“The rest have been sent back to their parents from Punan Ba and six other villages in the vicinity.”

He claimed that the boys and the girls were housed separately and they slept on mattresses and pillows in “a proper organised manner.”

Bidui also said the headmaster had denied the report yesterday which mentioned the pupils have been sleeping in a crowded and uncomfortable condition under a leaking roof.

Meanwhile, The Borneo Post online had been flooded with emails and messages expressing shock and concern.

Many of the messages touched the heart of the netizens.

One reader wrote: “Let us move forward with positive action and do something about this. Will Borneo Post shoulder this move as a civic duty towards humanity?

“This would be more neutral and acceptable without politicians on both sides of the divide trying to score points. After all, it has been one year since the incident unfolded under their very noses … I know I would support any move by Borneo Post.”

Read more: http://www.theborneopost.com/2012/12/06/other-schools-in-the-same-boat/#ixzz2EcG376p8