Pupils forced to study in cramped shipping containers


priya@thestar.com.my

EVERY DAY, the parents of 600 students get their children dressed and fed before sending them to the religious school, which is housed in a container.

It has been four long years but the pupils at Hidayatul Mustaqimah primary school in Jinjang Utara are still forced to study inside the hot stuffy containers after a landslide damaged the original building in April 2006.

Parents have little choice but to send their children there as it is nearby.

Local community leader Rahman Hassan said many parents had complained but after several meetings with officials from various quarters, the matter was still not resolved.

Rahman said his child had studied in the container school for three years and would continue with her Form One classes at another school.

“My child is finally free of the clutches of that school. I pity the children who have to continue to achieve academic excellence in that environment,” he said.

The 40-foot long containers are filled with 30 to 35 children at one time and the school has two sessions a day, morning and afternoon.

According to Rahman, there are six containers and some have air- conditioners while others have stand fans.

He also said many found it hard to believe that a container school still existed in the heart of Kuala Lumpur.

Che Jah Hussin, 57, said her grandson fells ill all the time making it difficult for everyone at home. She added that the environment was too dangerous for the children.

“My grandchild is always complaining of the unbearable heat and is always falling sick. When it rains, they have to take shelter in the surau next door,” she added.

The children, however, were seen making the best of the situation and were diligently cleaning and sprucing up what little space they had.

Their break time is spent under a tent as everyone huddles together to escape the heat and rain.

The number of students enrolling for the coming year has decreased and many parents are rethinking their decision of placing their children in the school.

“I am forced to send my child somewhere else next year, as I cannot afford to put her safety at stake.

“I would definitely reconsider my decision if the problem is dealt with quickly,” said Maizatul Hafizah, 31, whose child will be in Year One next year.

A press conference was held at the school recently where JAWI director Datuk Che Mat Che Ali and Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Maj-Gen Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom announced that work on a new building would begin in six months.

“A piece of land measuring 2.99 acres has been identified for the new school with two blocks.

“The land is about 1.5km away from the present location and RM7.4mil has been set aside for the development,” Jamil said.

The new building will have 24 rooms and will be able to accommodate 960 students.

However, residents are still not convinced the project will take off. Rahman, for one, said many people had come and gone but the problem persisted.

“They promised us a school two years after the landslide but nothing transpired.

“Now they say everything has been approved and the budget was given last year so what is taking them so long?” he asked.

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