By John Isaac
AN allocation of at least another RM3.235 billion is needed to repair the remaining 647 dilapidated schools in Sarawak, said Assistant Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Dr Annuar Rapaee.
In this regard, he believes it is pivotal that a bigger sum be allocated in the coming National Budget 2021 to repair these schools, and that the way forward would be for the federal government to allocate ‘over and above’ the usual yearly allocation for education in Sarawak.
According to him, Sarawak initially had 1,020 dilapidated schools under various categories where 75 per cent or more of the building blocks were rendered as no longer useable or declared as unsafe by the Public Works Department (JKR), and those prone to flooding and soil erosion.
“A total of 373 from these 1,020 dilapidated schools in Sarawak have been repaired with the state government’s allocation of RM392.86 million and RM1.517 billion from the federal government, of which RM1 billion is the repayment of loan contra.
“As of now, we still have 647 dilapidated schools in Sarawak that require urgent attention, which is why the amount allocated for education by the federal government through Ministry of Education (MOE) under the National Budget 2021 must be over and above the usual annual budget allocation.
“To resolve the issue of dilapidated schools in Sarawak once and for all and in a speedy manner, we need at least another RM3.235 billion. If the amount cannot be disbursed in one lump sum, it can perhaps be staggered in several portions over a few years,” he said in an interview with The Borneo Post yesterday.
He was asked on his wish for Budget 2021 which will be tabled in Parliament this Friday.
Dr Annuar, who is also Local Government and Housing Assistant Minister, believed that without an increase in the yearly budget allocation, it would be difficult to resolve the issue of dilapidated schools in the state.
“If the federal government fully focuses on education under the National Budget 2021, the issue of dilapidated schools (in Sarawak) can be resolved within one to two years.
“Keep in mind that we also need to improve the dilapidated conditions of teachers’ quarters in order for them to be able to focus on imparting knowledge to students,” he added.