Land issue holding back conversion of Tamil schools

  • Nation
  • Thursday, 24 Jul 2008

KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will consider converting the status of partially aided Tamil primary schools to fully aided if the land issue can be solved.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said the problem was the land ownership as about 250 Tamil primary schools were presently built on estate land.

“We can’t have a fully aided school if the land doesn’t belong to us,” he told reporters Thursday after chairing a special committee meeting to overcome Tamil school issues.

He said the ministry had identified that the land belonged to government-linked companies, private companies or individuals.

Besides land, he said the Government also had to look at other issues such as the supply of teachers, upgrading of schools and under-enrolled schools.

“There is no point converting a school if it only has three pupils. This is why in our meeting, we identified the actual number of pupils and schools, schools which need to be upgraded or are overcrowded,” he said.

There are presently 523 Tamil primary schools in the country.

He said the special committee found after carefully studying the information available the overall situation at Tamil primary schools was not as bad as painted by some parties.

“We are also working closely with the Plantation Industries and Commodities Ministry to upgrade the infrastructure of Tamil schools located in plantations,” he said.

Also present at the special committee meeting were Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Datuk Peter Chin Fah Kui and his deputy Senator A. Kohilan Pillay, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department S.K. Devamany, Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Senator T. Murugiah and a representative of Deputy Works Minister Datuk Yong Khoon Soon, Robert Foong who is also his senior political secretary.

On July 2, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak had said the Government would set up a special unit under the Education Ministry to monitor the development of Tamil schools as well as their problems.

He said the unit would identify the schools to be converted into fully-aided schools as well as consolidate those which had an enrolment of less than 50 pupils.

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