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Monday October 7, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Monday October 7, 2013 MYT 7:00:03 AM
Sending a message: Parents signing a banner expressing their disapproval over plans to close SK St Thomas in Kuantan.
KUANTAN: Parents of SK St Thomas primary school here are in a quandary over what they claim are plans by the Education Ministry to close the school.
Kamarulzaman Ali, 42, said talk of pupils being transferred to other schools here first surfaced in August.
“We called Education Department officers but they could not verify the information. When we probed further, we discovered that there was a letter from the ministry to St Thomas Church over plans to close the school on Dec 31 due to the outcome of a court case between the ministry and the church,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Government had dropped its bid to acquire a plot of land belonging to the church, and where the secondary SMK St Thomas is located. The primary school is located next to the church.
Last Nov 16, the High Court here granted leave to the titular Roman Catholic Archbishop of Kuala Lumpur to challenge the Government’s decision to acquire a part of the St Thomas Church land.
The Archbishop sought the court order against the Pahang Lands and Mines Department director and the Education Ministry over their intention to acquire the church’s land. On Jan 11, the church got to keep its land after the Government withdrew its acquisition bid.
According to SK St Thomas’ official blog, the primary school was established in 1950 by Rev Father Louis Guittat and was declared a fully-aided school in 1953.
In 1960, the school was taken over by the Brothers of St Gabriel and remains under its jurisdiction to this day.
Kamarulzaman, who held a meeting with other parents on Thursday night, said parents had not been notified officially of the ministry’s plans.
They are now worried that the tight-knit school community would be split up.
Another parent, Mohd Redhuan Shah Abdullah, 48, said another option would be to maintain all staff and students should the school be relocated to a new building.
“Otherwise, the school’s heritage will be lost. I studied here in 1971 and my son is studying in the very same classroom I was in.
“If a time extension is given, a new building can probably be built and our children and teachers can continue being a community,” he said.
Cassie Chan, 44, has a very strong attachment to the school as her father was a teacher there for 20 years. She does not want to move her two children to other schools.
The school has 492 students, 43 teachers and three staff members.
State Education Department director Rosdi Ismail could not be reached for comment.
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