Nov 27, 2006

Hishammuddin On Shortage Of Pupils In Chinese Schools

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 27 (Bernama) -- The shortage of pupils in 531 national type Chinese schools (SJKC) nationwide has to be addressed first before new schools can be built, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Monday.

He said the 531 schools had less than 150 pupils each.

"The opposition has raised the issue of new Chinese schools but is there a need for new schools when the existing ones are short of pupils?" he asked when winding up a motion tabled by Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) proposing to cut by RM10 the salaries of Hishammuddin, the two deputy education ministers Datuk Hon Choon Kim and Datuk Noh Omar and the parliamentary secretary P. Komala Devi.

Lim said he brought the motion because there was no allocation for new national type Chinese schools (SJKC) and national type Tamil schools (SJKT) in Budget 2007 and in the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP).

"SJKC Central Heights in Segamat has two pupils and three teachers, SJKC Padang Gajah in Beruas has two pupils and two teachers. Do we need to build more schools when the pupil shortage problem has not been resolved?" Hishammuddin said.

He said the government's education agenda was to bridge the gap between schools in the rural and urban areas, provide adequate quality teachers, improve school infrastructure especially in the rural areas, and provide access to quality education.

"We do not choose between SJKC or SJKT but have a larger agenda. Those in rural areas in need of financial aid will be championed not because of race but on humanitarian grounds to provide access to knowledge to all races," he added.

Hishammuddin later told reporters that the government was steadfast in its agenda to close the educational divide, upgrade teacher quality, create more knowledgeable students and provide a holistic approach to education.

"The majority of our pupils are enrolled in national schools. So when the focus is on national type schools, there is some confusion. This is not fair.

"I have a heavy responsibility to all and there are lots of things to do in five years," he added.

The motion was rejected unanimously. The Dewan Rakyat sits again Tuesday.

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