Jonathan Chai Voon Tok

BY SARAH HAFIZAH CHANDRA & NOOR SYAHHIRA HADY

KOTA SAMARAHAN: The allocation of funds to SJK Chung Hua schools for construction and relocation marks another milestone for Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s administration.

Association of the Boards of Management of Aided Chinese Primary Schools in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions president Jonathan Chai Voon Tok expressed his gratitude for the funding to rebuild SJK Chung Hua Bako.

“We were overjoyed when the Chief Minister announced to give us a one to one matching grant of RM3mil towards our building fund,” he said during the opening ceremony of the new SJK Chung Hua Bako, officiated by Abang Johari, on Tuesday (Sept 15).

Chai said a total of 17,637 students were enrolled in 56 aided Chinese Primary Schools (SJK Chung Hua) in Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Division this year, out of which nearly 27 per cent (4,749) were Bumiputera.

“Some of our member schools in the rural area have as high as 80 per cent  Bumiputera students out of their total enrolment. SJKChung Hua looks more like a community school nowadays and they are no longer a Chinese school per se.”

He said although SJK Chung Hua had produced countless number of elite students, the community had been struggling financially to build and maintain the facilities for these schools.

Based on a survey conducted a few months ago, 48 schools throughout Sarawak had submitted their applications for financial aid for the school’s facilities, acquisition of land, and relocation of schools with a total budget of RM63mil, he disclosed.

“Due to the enormous need of funds, we understand that it is impossible for the Sarawak government to satisfy the needs of every school instantly.”

Chai said that on account of the limited funds, the assessment committee had decided to prioritise those schools with projects under construction or with imminent timeline for the settlement of payments, as well as those which had been approved.

“We would like to appeal to the Chief Minister to increase the size of funding for the coming year so that the pressing needs of those schools can be met.”

He conveyed that the association would assert undivided support to the Sarawak government to reclaim the autonomy in education for them to revamp or overhaul the education system, adding that this way, Sarawak would be able to keep up with the current digital era.

He also expressed gratitude that Abang Johari had responded to their appeal to set up a special unit headed by Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian to look after the interests and financial needs of aided Chinese primary schools in Sarawak.