KUDAT: The PETRONAS-funded hostel in Balambangan Island, 44 km north of here, will be completed by this September, marking the coming together of efforts to improve access to education among Sabahan students in the remote island.
The RM4 million Asrama Harian Luar Bandar is being built within SK Balambangan Banggi’s compound and will provide students with a place to stay during school days.
The hostel, with a 120-bed facility, is expected to improve attendance as students would no longer need to walk for hours or ride boats daily to attend school.
The school will also receive additional financial support from PETRONAS’ CSR arm, Yayasan PETRONAS, for the provision of furniture and equipment at the hostel to enhance students’ learning environment.
The students are mostly from three villages on the island, with Kampung Selamat being the nearest to the school.
The others are Kampung Batu Sirih where boats are the only means of transportation and Kampung Kok Simpul where pupils need to trek through the jungle from as early as 5 am to make it to the school by 7 am.
At times, they had to sit out of school, especially during bad weather due to safety concerns.
The hostel is one of two education infrastructure projects announced by PETRONAS in Sabah; the other is the construction of MRSM Ranau, which started in December last year, to improve access to education among Sabahans.
PETRONAS Senior Vice President, Group Human Resource Management Dato’ Raiha Azni Abd Rahman said: “Education is the single most important tool for improving quality of life.
“Through these infrastructure projects, PETRONAS remains steadfast in supporting and working closely with the government of Sabah to help contribute towards providing better access to education and capability building.”
“We truly believe that empowering individuals through quality education, the right knowledge, skills and resources is key in the development of human capital that will benefit not only Sabah but also Malaysia,” she added.
PETRONAS is closely monitoring the progress of the hostel project through regular visits by its management, including the latest by Vice President of Project Delivery & Technology, Noor Ilias Mohd Idris.
The hostel will be equipped with two accommodation blocks – for male and female pupils – a dining hall, surau and other related facilities.