PUTRAJAYA: The sites for the new Chinese primary schools have been identified and construction can begin as early as next year, said MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Commenting on the announcement of 10 new SJK (C) and relocation of six micro schools – the biggest number of new SJK (C) that the Government has announced – the MCA president 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 one year. Construction can start as soon as possible, once the issue of land use is sorted out,” said the Transport Minister.
Liow was speaking to reporters after attending a press conference hosted by Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid at the Education Ministry here yesterday.
Mahdzir, in his speech, announced that 10 new SJK (C) have been approved to be built in Selangor and Johor.
Six micro SJK (C) would be relocated to areas that needed new schools, he added.
Mahdzir said that the country’s forefathers have 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 SJK (T).
The announcement also rubbished accusations that there was no effort made to help SJK (C) and SJK (T), he said, while urging Chinese primary schools to elevate the standard of Bahasa Malaysia among students.
Liow said that 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.
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 youths that there would be an “imminent announcement on the matter”.
Thanking Najib and Mahdzir for approving the new schools and the relocations, Liow said the forefathers’ vision of a multiracial and multilingual society that anchors on unity and diversity has been strengthened.
With this strength, Malaysia would be able to boost its competitiveness on the world stage, he said.
On why only Selangor and Johor were chosen to have the new schools, Liow said requests from other states would also be considered.
Later in KUALA LUMPUR, 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 said at Wisma MCA.
He added that Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon would set up a construction committee for the schools in November.
Meanwhile, Chong said each of the schools could accommodate about 500 pupils on average for a start.
“It may increase to 1,000 depending on the population growth,” he said.
Chong added that as opposed to the situation in the 90s, 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 in his speech that 454 out of 1,298 SJK (C) nationwide have 150 students or less.
New schools were nonetheless necessary to meet high demand in areas with 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.
Separately, Chong rebutted Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s allegation that the Education Ministry had rejected an application to relocate SJK (C) Poay Chai from Kedah to Bukit Mertajam, Penang, because it did not allow transborder relocations.
The school would be relocated to Taman Bukit Indah in Johor according to Mahdzir’s announcement yesterday.