THE new four-storey SJK(C) Aik Hua in Sungai Ara, George Town, Penang, will be able to accommodate 1,200 pupils once it is completed in October 2022.
School board chairman Datuk Gary Choot said the current school building in Muntri Street, which is almost 110 years old, can cater to only about 200 pupils.
“We now have about 80 pupils but at our peak, we used to have 400 to 500 pupils and they had to sit on the floor to study.
“We take in pupils with special needs too and we have been hoping to build better facilities for our pupils.
“The school building in Muntri Street is small and we cannot take in more than 200 pupils at any one time as there is no space for them to study.
“Due to the limited space, we decided that we need to expand, ” he said during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new school building along Lilitan Sungai Ara recently.
Choot said the construction of the new school would take about 18 months at an estimated cost of RM22mil, excluding the equipment needed for the new building.
“We managed to raise about RM10mil while the remainder was contributed by developers through the state government, ” he said.
The four-storey building is on a 1.74ha (4.3acres) plot and has 36 classrooms, 19 facilities rooms, a hall and canteen.
Choot said the new school would also have pupils with special needs.
“The children with special needs will study on the ground floor and have their own entrance.
“With the increase in capacity, we can take in more pupils with special needs.
“We will, however, have to apply to the Federal Government if we want to take in more pupils with special needs because more resources are needed to teach them.
“They will need to allocate more teachers to cater to the special needs pupils, ” he said.
Choot added that the old school belonged to the Penang Hainan Association, which will decide what to do with the building in Muntri Street after the pupils are relocated.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow, who was guest of honour at the groundbreaking ceremony, said the existing primary school in Muntri Street only occupies 0.08ha (0.2 acres) of land.
“The pupils have limited space to conduct their activities.
“The school applied to the state for a plot of land to relocate in 2011.
“After obtaining the 1.74ha plot for the relocation, the school faced challenges in raising funds for the project.
“It was then the state decided to use the development contributions of RM10.7mil from Hunza Group and RM5mil from Ideal Property Group, which were paid to the state government, to help build the new school.
“The contributions from the developers were channelled here after all factors and needs of the school were taken into consideration, ” he said.