The recent proposal by the Sarawak government to set up international schools in the cities and towns is timely but needs further inputs and refinements.
Foremost, these international schools will boost the education standards of the younger generations in the state for the years ahead to meet the demands of the digital economy dominating the world today.
These international schools are investments that will augur well for the state’s human resource development as the standard of education will definitely be much higher than the current Malaysian education standard.
A number of considerations that ought to be made prior to the setting up of these international schools include criteria for students’ intake, teachers’ qualifications and transparency of annual reports.
If these schools are only for the elite students of the state, then it is likely that only a small percentage will qualify while some may not opt to go due to the cost involved. Hence selection of students for the international schools should made clear and also how much financial support will be provided to those who qualified.
Essentially, these proposed schools will be competing with existing private schools in Sarawak which are also offering such education syllabus and will impact their investments in the state.
For these international schools to attract qualified teachers and administrators, these must be done in a transparent manner as it involves public funds from Sarawak.
Far too many previous state investments projects have been set up without input and knowledge from the people and so raise issues concerning cronyism and other insinuations.
The financial records of these schools should be made available for public scrutiny to ensure that the money is well spent for the future of the state.
When all these issues are satisfactorily looked into, then the government should provide the blueprint for the project and invite comments from the international community too as this will enable us to have the best possible set ups for these schools in the state.
Just setting up international schools for elite students is not a guarantee that Sarawak will reap all the benefits as the students may not stay in the state or return after furthering their studies.
A more holistic approach is to be adopted before such massive investments is committed as only then will the people here fully support the proposal.