KUCHING: A new residential international school here is expected to take in its first batch of students next year.

This is one of the five such schools proposed by the state government. The others will be located in Kota Samarahan, Sibu, Miri and Bintulu.

Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong revealed that the school which caters for smart Form 1 to 5 students would be located at Mile 12, Jalan Kuching-Serian. It will take in at least 500 students once it is fully operational.

He said construction of all the schools would be done next year, but it has not been decided for all five to become operational at the same time.

Manyin tells reporters about the development of the five proposed residential international schools. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

“We decided that there is no need for all five to open at the same time because that would be a waste of money. There will be five principals. So we may start with one first, but the construction of the schools will be done at the same time,” he said in an exclusive interview with the New Sarawak Tribune in his office at Bangunan Baitul Makmur, here yesterday. 

The overall cost of implementing the school projects, according to him, would use up RM300 million under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP).

“The students for the schools will be selected based on the results of their Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), and they must be recommended by their principals,” he said.

“All top non-Bumiputera and Bumiputera students are qualified to enter the school, especially those from B40 families.

“Some 70 per cent of them will stay in boarding houses as they will be selected from rural schools.”

When asked if the students would have to pay fees, Manyin said the B40 students would study completely free of charge. The others above the B40 level will pay according to their means.

“The schools will have state-of-the-art facilities and amenities because we want to make sure that we provide quality education. If not, then the parents would have no confidence in us and it would mean that we have failed,” he said.

Manyin said while the schools would use Cambridge University-based syllabus the students will still need to take the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE) and Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations. After that they can choose whether to go to local or overseas universities.

When asked whether the best-of-the-best students would be sponsored to pursue higher education overseas, Manyin said that he would leave it to Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg to decide.

“This (establishment of the international schools) is the brainchild of Abang Johari. He expects to produce Bumiputera technocrats especially those from the rural areas that normally have little or no access to such schools,” he said.

Last Nov 2, the chief minister announced that the state government was planning to build five residential international schools in the state for smart rural students to study using international curriculum.