SIMPANG RENGGAM: While thousands of schools nationwide welcomed students for the new school year, four new Tamil schools in the state are unable to open.
The affected schools, built at a total cost of more than RM20mil, are SJK(T) Ladang Tebrau and SJK(T) Bandar Sri Alam in Johor Baru, SJK(T) Tun Dr Ismail here, and SJK(T) Ladang Niyor in Kluang.
SJK(T) Ladang Tebrau and Tun Dr Ismail have been lying idle for almost two years; one did not have a proper certificate of fitness from the relevant authorities, while the other did not have a 150m access road from the school to the main road and utilities.
The one in Kluang is also ready but has problems with utilities while the Sri Alam school has not been completed although it was scheduled to open this year.
Parents whose children were supposed to enrol in SJK(T) Tun Dr Ismail were upset and disappointed that the problem happened in the Education Minister’s constituency.
They held a peaceful protest outside the new school, urging the ministry and government to speed up efforts to open the school.
The school’s parent-teacher association chairman S. Kesavan said the parents were fed up with the empty promises made by various politicians to open the school, which was to take in the 17 students currently studying at an old school about 25km away in an oil palm estate.
He said despite the new facility being ready in town, a private van ferried the 17 students to the estate school daily.
“The road to the estate school is gravelled for about 8km to 10km.
“During the rainy season the road is dirty and vehicles, including the school van, break down or get stuck in the mud,” he said.
Set up in 1959, the school is housed in a dilapidated single-storey building and has eight teachers.
“The children have to wake by 5am to catch the van at 6am for the journey along a winding gravelled road,” said Kesavan, adding almost all the Indian families had relocated from the estate to the town.
He claimed that many of the students and teachers were having respiratory problems due to the dusty road in front of the school.
“The school also has electrical wiring issues and some of the wooden parts were attacked by termites,” he said.
He hoped that Education Minister Dr Maszlee Malik, who had visited the new school in the past, would seriously look into the issue.
“How did they get funds to build a new school but not have the funds to build an access road for 150m and connect utilities to it?” he asked, adding that many parents were waiting to send their children to the new school which could accommodate about 250 pupils.
State Consumerism, Human Resources and Unity Committee chairman Dr S. Ramakrishnan, when contacted, admitted that some of the new Tamil schools did not open for the new school term.
“The issues concerning the schools involve many agencies and local councils,” he said.
He appealed to the parents to give the authorities more time to resolve the issues.