Resolving Tamil school land issues in Penang

Sundarajoo giving the thumbs up at the ceremony to hand over revision books at SJK (T) Mak Mandin last year. — Filepic

Special committee hopes to help institutions obtain titles so they can raise funds to rebuild, improve pupil enrolment

THE Tamil Schools Special Committee of Penang is committed to resolving land issues in the state.

Its chairman Datuk Seri Sundarajoo Somu, who is also Perai assemblyman, said the committee had identified a piece of land for SJK (T) Ladang Juru, with negotiations on the land price underway.

“The school has some 200 pupils now. Once rebuilt with proper infrastructure, we expect to see an enrolment of 500 to 600 pupils,” he said in an interview with Buletin Mutiara.

On two other schools – SJK (T) Ladang Malakoff and SJK (T) Mayfield – Sundarajoo, who is also state housing and environment committee chairman said he had met with developers to discuss land ownership transfer to the respective schools.

“The meeting has yielded positive result.

“Having a land title is important to raise funds to rebuild these schools,” he added.

Sundarajoo noted that poor enrolment in Tamil schools was often due to inadequate infrastructure.

He said that historically, Tamil schools were established in estates alongside Hindu temples.

“But estates do not exist nowadays. Even if they do, Malaysian Indians do not reside there, only foreign workers.

“We must move Tamil schools closer to where the population has moved,” he stressed.

'Several of the 28 Tamil schools in Penang face land issues. If I can address at least 50% of them during my term, I would consider it an achievement.' - Datuk Seri Sundarajoo Somu'Several of the 28 Tamil schools in Penang face land issues. If I can address at least 50% of them during my term, I would consider it an achievement.' - Datuk Seri Sundarajoo Somu

Sundarajoo also expressed his desire to solve land matters for other Tamil schools, including SJK (T) Ladang Kerian, SJK (T) Sungai Bakap and SJK (T) Sungai Ara over the next four years.

“Several of the 28 Tamil schools in Penang are facing land issues.

“If I can address at least 50% of them during my term as Perai assemblyman, I would consider it an achievement,” he said.

Sundarajoo also said he was in the process of setting up either a non-governmental organisation or a foundation that would be managed by independent bodies to raise funds for education, especially Tamil schools.

“I am planning to organise programmes on effective parenting through ‘training the trainers’, since parents are considered the primary educators of their children.

“Sometimes, parents unintentionally resort to abusive language or physically discipline their children when teaching them.

“Such approaches are not acceptable today and may lead to elevated stress.

“Basically, this will be more like a motivational talk to encourage better parenting.

“The sessions can be conducted either yearly, half-yearly or quarterly.”

Sundarajoo also reiterated his commitment to providing revision books to Tamil school pupils.

He shared that last December, Penang government, through the state committee, sponsored 15,900 Tamil workbooks to the 28 schools at a cost of RM55,000.

In addition, 600 revision books were distributed to students in 52 secondary schools preparing for the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia next year.

The cost of these books, amounting to RM10,000, was also covered by the committee.

“Education is close to my heart. It is the only way to advance a community.

“Without education, individuals may lose their way.

“Everyone has their own journey in life.

“Some may deviate. Only a few keep ‘walking straight’, like myself even after going through hardship,” he said.

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