Some 176 schools nationwide may be closed or merged because they each have fewer than 20 students said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.
“The ministry defines a school as having a low student population if it has less than 150 students.
“Based on a study, there are 2,996 schools in the country which have less than 150 students,” he said to a question by Ahmad Lai Bujang (BN-Sibuti).
Of this, he said, 2,058 are national schools, 578 are Chinese national primary schools and 360 are Tamil national primary schools.
He added that 44 schools have less than 10 students each while 132 have less than 20 students per school.
To address the issue, Mahdzir said that a comprehensive study is under way to determine if the schools should be closed or merged.
“This has already been done for three boys schools along Jalan Pasar in Kuala Lumpur, which were merged,” he said.
He said the ministry would not force a school to close or merge with another if parents of the students are against such a move.
“There was a case where a Chinese national primary school remained open despite having only two students.
“Their parents refused to give consent and the two students were allowed to complete their Standard Six before it was done,” he said.
Mahdzir said that Sabah and Sarawak have the problem of schools with low student populations because of the remote location of the facilities.
He cited Sibuti as an example, where 27 schools have less than 150 students each.
He said it is also a requirement that dormitories be built for schools with low student populations that are merged, particularly in remote areas.