KUCHING: Apart from not fulfilling their promises made prior to GE14 that is to deliver education autonomy to Sarawak the Pakatan Harapan-led federal government is also holding back funding necessary for the upkeep of government owned preschools in Sarawak.
The held back funds, which are due from the federal ministry of education, are also affecting the upkeep of pre-school buildings in Sarawak and that lack of funding is threatening the safety and wellbeing of children in those schools.
Batu Kitang assemblyman Lo Khere Chiang said this while on a site visit and briefing with community leaders and villagers from Kampung Haji Baki at the village mosque yesterday.
“DAP had promised autonomy in education and also in health but neither are forthcoming and I am concerned because now they (DAP) are asking Sarawak to pay for it (education) saying that we have a lot of money,” Lo said in his briefing yesterday.
“I have been waiting eagerly for their promises such as the return of 50 per cent of taxes collected in Sarawak, the 20 per cent royalty for oil and gas, education autonomy and health autonomy but none are here yet, and I worry that their delays and hold backs will affect our children badly,” he explained.
Lo was briefing community leaders and villagers after the completion of the tar-sealing for the mosque’s parking space and the beginning of works to complete the renovation for the village’s only pre-school building.
“All in all, we have used up RM150,000 from our Sarawak rural transformation programme funds (RTP) to tar seal the mosque area and that includes the RM70,000 we used to start renovation works on the Tadika (pre-school) building which is near the mosque,” Lo said.
The funding for the upkeep of preschools fall under the purview of the federal education ministry and in Sarawak there seems to be a stand-off with Putrajaya causing delays to the desperately needed repairs to dilapidated schools in the interior.
Although the matter of the dilapidated schools is well publicised and are within the knowledge of the reading public the fact that funds are also wanting even for upkeep of pre-school buildings is less known.
Lo was lamenting that Kampung Haji Baki’s pre-school building was not the only property needing renovation and upkeep but also other government school buildings in his constituency.
The Padawan Municipal Council chairman was genuinely concerned because the lack of funding will force the state assemblyman to use up his RTP funding for expenses that is supposed to be borne by Putrajaya therefore depriving his constituents of other services and development needs.
“I can’t stress this enough. Should they (DAP) fulfill their promises then Sarawak will gladly take over and take care of education from the start to finish but they are not keeping their promises and they are playing even with children’s safety and wellbeing just to satisfy their political agenda,” Lo said.
With the RTP funds disbursed the pre-school building in Kpg Haji Baki will have a new roof, a ceiling, new doors and locks for the classrooms.