I am going to be splendidly naive... how can it be, that my country, in the 21st century, still has kids who have to travel at least 3 hours by four wheel drive to secondary school?!
How can it be, that we have kids failing their standard 6 exam and dropping out?!
We're not some backward, undeveloped country! We're Malaysia! We have KLIA and KLCC and Putrajaya... and we can't even afford to build a school up to at least Form 5 near to the longhouses so that kids don't have to travel so far (and get raped!) and board at the schools instead of living at home?!
I travelled hundreds of miles to a remote village in the mountains of India to serve at a little primary school ... and those children don't even have to travel THIS FAR to go to secondary school :(.
Friday January 8, 2010
Education Ministry to set up secondary school at settlement in Ulu Baram
Story and photo by STEPHEN THEN
MIRI: Long Bedian, a remote settlement in Ulu Baram with a population of 1,000, will soon have a lower secondary school in its vicinity.
The Education Ministry has approved the construction of a secondary school in Long Bedian to offer Form One to Form Three classes, said Deputy Minister Dr Mohd Puad Zarkasi.
Long Bedian, located seven hours by timber road from Miri, already has a primary school.
The ministry will build extra blocks for the school to be upgraded and offer the lower secondary classes.
Students who pass the PMR will proceed to higher secondary classes at bigger villages like Long Lama (100km away) and Marudi (250km away).
Dr Puad made the announcement during his visit to Long Bedian early this week.
He flew in with Telang Usan assemblyman Lihan Jok and State Education Department officials to perform a simple ceremony to begin construction of the lower secondary school.
“The ministry wants to ensure that as many students as possible in the remote areas be given opportunities to continue their education to as high a level as possible.
“We don’t want to see students dropping out of school after Year Six,’’ he said.
The move would be especially beneficial to the Penans, because the drop-out rate in this minority community was very high, he added.
Previous statistics showed that more than half of the Penan students left school after Year Six.
They would end up trying to make a living the way their parents did, like hunting, fishing and doing subsistence farming, he said.
Lihan said there were 15 Penan longhouses in the vicinity of Long Bedian and at least 300 children of school-going age in the villages.
The school would have boarding facilities to accommodate 300 students, he added.
Long Bedian is connected to Miri by a timber road that snakes through logging concession territories.