COMMENT BY YB PROF DR P.RAMASAMY, DEPUTY CHIEF MINISTER II, PENANG
The construction of a new school building for SJKT Sungai Bakap cannot be ignored. The action of the Penang State Department of Education in deciding to stop the construction of the new Bakap SJKT is one of the biggest disappointment.
Initially, the school was allocated about RM3.5 million from the federal government for the construction of a new school on the allotted land.
SJKT Sungai Bakap is now located on private land.
The school trustees estimate the cost of construction of the school is around RM15 million.
Construction of the school building started on the budget. However, the provisions approved by the federal government are insufficient to fully cover the cost of school construction. With this, only a portion of the new school building has been built to date.
Due to lack of funds, the construction of the school has been temporarily abandoned. Just because funds allocated from the federal government are insufficient, doesn’t mean the construction of the school should be stopped.
Penang Education Department should not advise parents to send their children to nearby schools. This action seems to be discarding government responsibility.
In my recent meeting with the existing Sungai Bakap SJKT, ways to raise funds for the construction of a new school were discussed. In fact, I reject the proposal of private funding for the construction of the new schools if the federal government fails to provide additional allocations.
As teachers, parents and existing school stakeholders are shoulder to shoulder and working on thinking-out-of-the-box solutions for the construction of the new school, the Penang Department of Education has written a premature letter to the headmaster informing him of the possibility of the construction of the school being halted.
The letter written by the Deputy Director dated March 22, 2023 informed the school principal that the new school’s application for construction of the new school was not approved at the meeting.
Thus, he advised the school to send the existing students to other nearby Tamil schools.
The letter from the Penang Department of Education is one letter with a premature and irresponsible decision. It wasn’t the department’s role to decide that construction of the new school could possibly be stopped.
There are other ways to revive construction of new temporarily halted school buildings. It’s all about raising extra funds for the school.
Land has been allocated, school foundations have been built and how is it possible for us to release the construction of a new building for a new school after so much effort has been made.
The Penang state government does not agree to neglect the construction of a new school. If the fundraising method has problems, then think of ways and efforts to raise the required funds.
If SJKT Rajaji has the opportunity to build a new school with private funds, why can’t SJKT Sungai Bakap.