Re-establish State Education Policy Under State Control

The time has come for the Sabah government to seriously review and re-assess the education policy and administration in Sabah with the re-establishment of Sabah’s own Ministry of Education and a vision towards building towering Sabahans that will drive the growth of Sabah into a developed nation status.

By Dr Jeffrey G Kitingan

“The Sabah government should take the opportunity to review the State Education Policy and re-establish it under state control including providing better financial support of Chinese schools” said Datuk Dr. Jeffrey Kitingan, STAR Sabah Chief.

The Bingkor assemblyman was asked to comment on the decision by the Sarawak government to build more technical schools under its control as well as the report of the philanthropist, Teo Han Tong, who had fulfilled a RM1 to RM1 donation pledge, and the support of the local Chinese community in funding the new RM1.4 million school building at the 84-year old SJK Kuok Ming school in Tawau.

“The decision of the Sarawak Chief Minister and his government in building more technical schools, in Mukah, Kapit, Baram and Betong, in an effort to get more rural Sarawakian children to pursue technical education should be commended and lauded” added Dr. Jeffrey.

Similarly, the Sabah government should emulate their Sarawak counterparts and build more technical and vocational institutes and colleges and upgrade existing ones to enhance the technical skills of Sabahans and at the same time to hasten the pace of creating technically skilled and techno-savvy Sabahan youths.

In the fast-paced modern world, job-seekers with better technical and technology skills not only stand a better chance of employment opportunities and career advancement but they will also contribute to and expedite the economic growth of Sabah.

Nowadays, even a store-keeper in a medium-sized industrial outfit will require computer knowledge and skills in enterprise resource planning (ERP) software.

By re-establishing education under Sabah control, the Sabah government can better manage and plan for the development of local human capital.   The recent calls to empower the Sabah Education Director emphasizes the need for education to be under state control once again than letting it flounder under the weight and distance of remote control by Malayan policy-makers and federal bureaucracy compounded by the lack of knowledge of local extenuating circumstances.

As part of the review, the Sabah government should also re-assess the financial requirements and needs of Chinese schools and not just leave the matter to the support of the Chinese and business communities.

The government should fund the construction of school buildings, libraries and computer classes and not just make token contributions at the end of the year especially during election campaign periods to fish for votes of the Chinese community.

This funding is more critical and justifiable in Sabah where in many Chinese schools the enrolment of non-Chinese students is more than one-third and in some instances where some students have to be turned away for lack of vacancies.

The Chinese and business communities can still play their part and with the additional funding from the Sabah government, the Chinese schools can focus more on educational teaching and development.

After 50 years of Malaysia, education and human capital development in Sabah appears to have regressed and not progressed as it should have.  Instead of building and moulding towering Sabahans like in the good old days of British rule, the stories now are of school dropouts, indiscipline, truancy, poor command of basic languages and mother-tongue, lack of skills and of course control from the federal leading to poor administration and poor quality and bad planning and implementation of school projects.

The time has come for the Sabah government to seriously review and re-assess the education policy and administration in Sabah with the re-establishment of Sabah’s own Ministry of Education and a vision towards building towering Sabahans that will drive the growth of Sabah into a developed nation status.

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