TEN new national-type Chinese schools or SJK (C) have been approved to be built in Selangor and Johor, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid announced.
The Education Minister also said six micro SJK (C) would be relocated to areas that needed new schools.
“The country’s forefathers had long decided that mother tongue education is an integral part of the national education system, hence the education road-map has always included three types of primary schools, namely Sekolah Kebangsaan, SJK (C) and national type Tamil schools or SJK (T).
“The construction of the new schools will be based on the priorities and needs of the project, as well as the country’s economic and financial capabilities, while the relocation of six schools must follow the procedures and conditions set by ministry, including parental consent,” he announced on Thursday.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said each of the schools could for a start accommodate about 500 pupils .
“It may increase to 1,000 depending on the population growth,” he added.
As opposed to the situation in the 90s, Chong said the country did not face “serious shortage” of Chinese vernacular schools, which saw parents queueing up in the middle of the night to secure admission for their children.
However, movement of people due to socio-economic needs caused enrolment in some SJK (C) to drop, he said.
Mahdzir said of the 1,298 SJK (C) nationwide, 454 have 150 students or less.
New schools were, however, necessary to meet high demand in areas with a booming population, Chong said.
He added that the Government had built 19 new Chinese vernacular schools and relocated 93 since 1999.
He said Johor and Selangor were chosen for the new schools as new, massive developments are mushrooming in the areas, especially in Sepang, Kuala Langat, Puchong, Shah Alam and southern Johor.
The sites for the new Chinese primary schools have been identified and construction can begin as early as next year, MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.
He urged the respective state governments and local councils to cooperate with the Federal Government on land-use approval.
“The sites were identified based on the needs compiled over the past year. Construction can start as soon as possible, once the issue of land use is sorted out,” said the Transport Minister.
Liow said the announcement proved that the Barisan Nasional Government holds fast to the principles of multi-stream education, putting to rest fears that the country was moving towards a single-stream system.
“This also reflects that the development of Chinese education in the country is comprehensive, from fund allocation to sufficient teachers,” he said.
Liow said, naming nine out of the 10 newly approved Chinese primary schools after nationalists and prominent figures in recognition of their contribution to the country, was a way to honour them for their efforts in nation building.
“We will always remember them for their hard work in developing the country,” he said, adding that the selection of names was done in consensus within Barisan Nasional.
Prior to yesterday’s announcement, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak promised during the Chinese Community Patriotic Assembly organised by MCA on Sept 16, that the Government would consider requests for more Chinese schools.
On Saturday, he revealed at a National Transformation 2050 townhall with Chinese youth that there would be an “imminent announcement on the matter”.
Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong said the Government is committed to promoting multi-stream education.
MCA deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong, said MCA has been tasked with obtaining the funds to build the schools.
“MCA will take the lead in organising and coordinating. We already have plans on how we are going to do this,” he added.
He said Chong would set up a construction committee for the schools in November.