KUCHING: Sarawak certainly needs its own Ministry of Education, Science and Technological Research, says minister Michael Manyin Jawong.
He said the establishment of the ministry as announced by Chief Minister Abang Johari Tun Openg on May 7 was necessary as the state had also invested in setting up several institutions of higher learning.
“There is the need to monitor and facilitate their development and contributions to the state which can be done with direct involvement through the ministry.
“And there is also the need to ensure no mismatch between their curriculum and the market demands for graduates upon graduation,” he said.
For the record, Sarawak now has the University College of Technology Sarawak (UCTS), Kolej Laila Taib, Swinburne University of Technology Sarawak, Curtin University Malaysia, Centre of Technical Excellence (CENTEX) and the Sarawak Skills Development Centre.
Michael Manyin said with many agencies doing their own research activities, it was necessary to have a governing body to coordinate such activities.
“With the establishment of the ministry, we are going to have this Sarawak Research Council to monitor and co-ordinate them,” he said.
Furthermore, he said based on the Sarawak Education Department’s database on physical conditions of schools, a total of 1,020 or 70 per cent out of 1,454 schools in the state were categorised as dilapidated.
“Another 415 schools were categorised as being in ‘critically dilapidated condition’,” he said.
The minister said if the state were to wait for funds from the federal government to repair or improve the condition of the schools, it would probably have to wait for 50 years.
“Abang Johari has instructed me as the minister in charge to talk to the federal government and try to secure more extra funds specifically for the purpose,” he said.
Michael Manyin said another problem affecting education in the state was the issue of low enrollment especially in rural schools, which he believed could be solved through the setting up of centralised schools.
“All these factors are depriving our students better facilities and amenities, including access to specialised teachers which are crucial for their performance.
“In short they are being deprived of conducive atmosphere to give their best,” he said.
Manyin further said despite the new ministry, education would always remain a federal matter.
“Through this ministry, we want to work together with the federal government and at the same time explore other possibilities on how to improve the current situation in the interest of the people,” he added.