EDUCATION Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin had announced that his Ministry would spend RM500mil next year to repair 600 dilapidated national schools.
He said the schools were identified from an audit carried out earlier this year to determine the state of the infrastructure.
The RM500mil is part of the RM1bil Special Fund announced by the Finance Minister in his 2012 Budget Speech to build, upgrade and maintain the affected schools.
In the 2012 budget, it was also announced that RM100mil would be allocated each to Chinese, Tamil as well as missionary schools.
The allocation is long overdue considering the fact that some 3% of the 55,000 school buildings audited by the Education Ministry are in very poor condition and require immediate attention in the interest of safety.
Over the past few years there have been a number of accidents in schools, including fatal ones, and this have seriously affected the safety of the teachers and the students.
There had been cases of classroom ceilings falling due to severe cracks or termite problems, or the wooden floor of the classroom giving way.
There were also fatal accidents involving schoolchildren playing with rusty goal posts in the school fields.
In my capacity as chairman of the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), I have often expressed concern over the safety of many schools and have suggested that a special allocation be set up by the Government to look into the repair and maintenance of the affected
schools in the interest of the safety of teachers, students and the public.
My concern is attributed to the fact that schools are not only a place for learning but also workplaces.
As workplaces, they are subject to the provisions of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 (OSHA) which requires the setting up of safety and health committees to look into all aspects of safety and health at work for teachers, students, parents and visitors.
Safety issues can include school buildings, toilets, canteens, laboratories and school fields.
The Government previously introduced programmes such as
the School Health Programme in 1967 and Safe School Project in 2002.
However, these programmes focused primarily on improving health and making schools safe from social ills and negative external influences such as
drug addiction, gangsterism and crime.
Hence, I have been a strong advocate for the principle of Occupational Safety and Health in schools.
The application of OSHA to schools as places of work aims to make them safe and healthy for teachers, students and visitors.
The programme aims:
> To ensure safety, health and welfare for those at work.
> To protect the students against risk to safety and health in connection with the activities of persons at work.
> To establish a safe and healthy working environment involving the office, laboratory, canteen, toilet, hostel, field, etc.
TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE,
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