KUANTAN: The SMK St Thomas parent-teacher association (PTA) is split on the decision to have the school’s name changed once it is relocated to new premises.
While welcoming the construction of a new complex for the school, its president Rozaini Mohd Nor said there were some parents who were opposed to the name change to SMK Mahkota Abdullah.
“Half of the PTA have no problem with the name change but I also understand there are some parents and many of the alumni who are not happy about it.
“The rationale given is that the new complex will be built on the Government’s money, thus the Education Ministry will decide on the school’s new name,” she said.
Rozaini said personally, her family also harboured sentiment for the school’s name since four of her sons studied there.
But she added that the building of a new complex to house both the St Thomas primary and secondary schools was a long time coming.
“We have been facing a lot of problems since we are sharing facilities with SMK Sultan Abu Bakar. There’s not enough room for the students and they can’t do a lot of their activities as well.
“The students are also unable to attend tuition classes because the school has an afternoon session as well. The decision to build a new building will be very good for the students,” said Rozaini.
The St Thomas primary and secondary schools are now sharing facilities with SK Teruntum and SMK Sultan Abu Bakar respectively after having to vacate its previous premises in Jalan Gambut here in 2014.
This was after the land where both schools were located, was returned to the St Thomas Church following a legal tussle between the Government and the church in 2012.
More than 12,000 people have signed a petition calling for the Government to retain the St Thomas name when both its primary and secondary schools are relocated.
The petition started by Rebecca D’Cruz on Tuesday on petition site change.com obtained 12,205 signatures as of 1.50pm on Wednesday.
It is seeking 15,000 supporters to advocate against the name change.
State Health, Human Resources and Special Functions Committee chairman Datuk Norol Azali Sulaiman recently told The Star that a RM56mil allocation had been set aside for the construction of the new school complex in Kemunting here, which is expected to begin sometime next year.
He said the St Thomas name had been deemed no longer suitable by the Education Department and since the schools were now separated from the church, a new name would be more fitting.
The Education Ministry said the change in school name was based on a suggestion by Tengku Puan Pahang Tunku Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah Sultan Iskandar back in 2013. Tunku Azizah had urged the public not to make changing the name of the schools an issue.
She pointed out that the schools no longer belong to the St Thomas Church since they were asked to vacate its premises.
“The Government is building a new school and it now belongs to the Education Ministry, therefore they can name it Sekolah Kebangsaan Mahkota Abdullah since the Tengku Mahkota went to that school.
“So please don’t turn this into an issue,” she said when met at the closing ceremony of the Asian Culinary Challenge 2017.
Tunku Azizah added that the church could run another school on its own land and name it St Thomas if it chose to.
“This case is different from other mission schools which are still on their own land. If the church has a majority share in it, they can have a say. It is a government school now, so it is up to the Government to name it what it wants,” she said.
Did you find this article insightful?