SRI AMAN, May 11 — The change of federal government from Barisan Nasional (BN) to Pakatan Harapan (PH) does not hinder Sarawak’s pursuit of better education for its people, state Chief Minister Datuk Abang Johari Openg said today.
He said he is taking an open approach to the change and is prepared to work with the federal government in the interest of the state, teachers and students.
“We must forget about the change, but to give emphasis to education,” he said in a speech to teachers and educators at the state-level 48th Teachers’ Day celebration here.
Abang Johari said the state government has taken a number of initiatives to create a good eco-system for the children in their educational pursuits.
“Not only we want to have the conditions in the schools to be conducive for the studying environment, we also want to have school buildings and teachers’ quarters to be pleasant,” he said.
Abang Johari said in his walkabouts in the rural areas of the state, he sympathises with the teachers who are forced to stay in “really bad shape living quarters.”
“Out of these walkabouts, I have decided to fix and upgrade dilapidated schools and teachers quarters,” he said, explaining the reason why the state government is willing to loan RM1 billion to the federal government.
He said he has directed state Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin to work out a formula with the federal Education Ministry on how the loan is to be channeled so to fix and upgrade the dilapidated schools and teachers quarters.
“We are looking at the disbursement of the loan in three packages, the first being RM300 million, then another RM300 million and the third, RM400 million,” he said, adding that the total RM1 billion is to be spent within two years.
“The truth is I have prepared three cheques and they will be issued out once the formula has been reached between the federal and state governments,” he said.
On the offer from the federal government for Sarawak to accept the teaching of Science and Mathematics subjects in English, the chief minister said it is a big responsibility of the state government to undertake.
“For that we need to train at least 3,000 teachers to be proficient in English. It is not about training them to be good in grammar or the construction of sentences, but more on English proficiency to enable them to teach Science and Mathematics,” he said.
Abang Johari said the state government has agreed to provide funding for the training of teachers to enable them to teach the two subjects in English.
“We also agree to allocate money for the state Education Department to purchase Science and Mathematics textbooks,” he said, telling the department that the textbooks must be in English.
The chief minister said he is aware the department is having problems to look for funds and that is the state government is willing to foot the bills to train the teachers and purchase the textbooks.
‘Not that we want to act big just because we have the money, but what is important is the outcome which we want to produce skilled human resources to meet our objective of making Sarawak a developed state by the year 2030,” he said.