Sarawak minister rejects academic’s claim that state-linked private international schools were unlawful

Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin said the state government has taken care to ensure that its initiatives and programmes were consistent with the country’s laws. — Picture by Sulok Tawie
Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin said the state government has taken care to ensure that its initiatives and programmes were consistent with the country’s laws. — Picture by Sulok Tawie

KUCHING, Sept 28 — Sarawak Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Sri Michael Manyin has dismissed a professor’s assertion that using a state foundation’s unit to set up five private international schools here contravened the Education Act 1996.

He said the state government has taken care to ensure that its initiatives and programmes were consistent with the country’s laws.

“We have studied the relevant laws and have had extensive engagements with the Ministry of Education and have complied with the requirements of the ministry in every step of the process of setting up these schools,” he told reporters.

He was responding to claims made by Professor Teo Kok Seong of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia who said that the setting up the private international schools that used English as the medium of instruction would violate the Education Act, which requires all government schools to use Bahasa Melayu.

Manyin added that Section 15 of the Education Act 1996 [Act 550] does not include education in international schools.

He stressed that these schools to be set up would be international schools that were owned and maintained by Sanjung Services Sdn Bhd, a private company registered under the Companies Act 2006.

He said the company is a subsidiary of Yayasan Sarawak.

“The statement by the professor relating to the requirements under the Education Act 1996 do not apply to these schools,” he said.

He also said the proposed Yayasan Sarawak International Secondary Schools were not government schools as defined in the Act.

“They are private schools as they will be owned and operated by a company just like most of the other private international schools that are currently operating in Malaysia.

“Further, our recent groundbreaking ceremony for the first of these schools was done only after obtaining a letter of support from the Ministry of Education,” he said.

Manyin also said that setting up these private international schools was not only to improve the command of English but also to provide access for high potential students from low-income families to quality international education.

“The professor must be aware that private international schools are mushrooming in Malaysia,” Manyin said, adding that according to the latest Malaysian International

According to the School Market Intelligence Report by ISC Research, enrolment in private international schools has grown by 61.2 per cent from 60,400 in July 2013 to 97, 300 in July 2019.

“As at January 2020, there were 280 English medium international schools with total enrolment of 100,060 students at both primary and secondary levels of which 70 per cent are Malaysians,” he said.

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