KUCHNG: Rural schools in the state, especially those with low enrolment, should be given priority when it comes to budget allocation, said Layar state assemblyman Gerald Rentap Jabu.
He said this was to ensure that the students concerned were not left behind in their studies and teachers had the same teaching aids as those in the urban areas.
“The federal government should allocate such a budget to our state government for us to distribute accordingly,” he told the New Sarawak Tribune on Sunday (July 18).
Rentap added there were seven low enrolment primary schools in his constituency, namely, SK St Peter and St Paul; SK St Bartholomew; SK St Mark; SK Pasa; SK Nanga Spak; SK Nanga Lawih and SK Saka.
He was commenting on Assistant Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dr Annuar Rapaee’s recent call to the federal Education Ministry to change the method of granting funds to rural schools.
Dr Annuar said that the allocation should be based on the remoteness of the schools, lack of infrastructure and examination results and not on student numbers.
Rentap agreed with the assistant minister, pointing out that not only was the allocation currently based on the number of students but there was also hardly any maintenance budget for rural schools.
“The predicament escalates when mission schools are involved. And this is further aggravated with the new norm which emphasises online teaching and learning,” he said.
Although the implementation of home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) was good for curbing the spread of Covid-19, Rentap said it was still a big challenge because certain schools did not have Internet connectivity.
“This makes the education gap bigger between the urban and rural population,” he said.
Meantime, to ensure that students did not miss out lessons during the temporary school closures, Rentap said the Layar Education Development Community, which he formed, had carried out an initiative by providing workbooks to Primary Four to Six and Sijili Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) students in the schools in Layar.
“This is also to help teachers that had to do or make their own homework for students to do,” he explained.