Those peasant kids in Sarawak schools

Kids heading to school in Sarawak. They pay a high price to get education even in public schools.

I’ll assume you are Malaysian, informed about the UEC, the history of migration in Malaya and the right-wing Malay numbnuts. So let’s talk about Chinese education, which is what’s at stake when the UEC recognition is discussed.

The issue is too multi-faceted, for the entirety of public education with its relation to the present four public school streams to be discussed in one thread.

One at a time.

Let’s begin with the fact it costs more to run four streams — National, Chinese, Tamil and religious — and by doing so we compromise the quality of public education and forgo economies of scale.

While middle managers in the Klang Valley are burdened by the choice of vernacular schools or private education for their kids, the vast majority of young people in Sarawak have to live with public schools. That’s the only way they will get to read and write, and find their way in the world. To be empowered.

The four stream system saps the funds, of course it does.

With the national debt, GST abolished and subsidies due, all expenses are scrutinised with  a fine tooth comb.

It’s about prioritising funds.

SK Long Tudon in Ba’Kelalan, in Sarawak’s Limbang zone, where the new works minister is from.

In Sarawak 371 schools have no electricity supply, they rely on generators. Which increases the cost, and turns teaching money to literally money to light their world up.

Which is actually a secondary issue to the fact 428 schools have no treated water supply. They are drinking well water and from other sources. They suspect the quality of the water.

These children are drinking suspect water, and here we are unwilling to talk about a single education system, which reduces costs, which improves the economy of scale.

I’m not done.

Because if light is scarce and water unsafe, they have to suffer to get to these schools. 721 schools have no access road, with 200 accessible by sea or river only.

2018, guys, that’s where we are.

They are looking right at you, these Penan kids.

Is it tough? It’s tough for the teachers as they want to get out of there as quickly as possible.

So there, that’s my opening gambit to talk about a single national public schools system.

The money we lose, and the quality so many have to live without because the money available is pigeonholed by the needs of multiple streams.

I feel ashamed we let these children endure this experience.

Public education worldwide struggles for money, and we have to ask whether we are sensible about our resource management.

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