KOTA MARUDU: Like all parents, single mother Salina Matusin from Kg Longob here wants her child to have everything he needs. But the widow could not even afford to give him new school uniforms as Salina is the family’s sole breadwinner and also takes care of her late husband’s parents.
“I was planning ask my son to wear his old school uniform, school bags and shoes bought last year because they can still be used. Money is tight and I have to spend wisely,” said Salina, 36, who is a babysitter.
And although Mohd Hafiz Jotin, who is her only child, did not complain, she knew that the Primary 2 pupil of SK Masalog was feeling sad when he saw his classmates wearing new uniforms as the new school year starts.
“Thus I am elated when he was chosen as one of the 400 pupils in Kota Marudu to receive school bags, uniforms and shoes today. I am thankful and it is indeed a happy occasion as my son is also all smiles to receive the aid,” she said at the Kota Marudu Community Hall where 400 excited pupils from impoverished families in the Kota Marudu constituency received school aids worth RM200 each.
Energy, Green Technology and Water Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Ongkili, who is also Kota Marudu MP, presented the aid to the pupils who ranged from Primary One to Six from nine schools, at the “Back to School” programme attended by their parents and teachers.
The pupils each received new school uniforms, school bags and shoes, worth a totalling RM80,000. The annual programme to help underprivileged school children is carried out by Tenaga Nasional Berhad in cooperation with SESB, both of which are agencies under the Ministry of Energy, Green Technology and Water.
Dr Maximus in his speech commended the programme for helping to ease the burden of low income parents who have to fork out expenses to buy various necessities for their children at the start of school.
He said the development of education in Kota Marudu was not only carried out through planned programmes and policies of the Education Ministry and schools, but also the involvement of the local leaders, parents, the private sector and NGOs.
“In Kota Marudu, the private sector and NGOs also play a pivotal role in assisting to provide infrastructure that gives rural students the same opportunity for education as enjoyed by those in towns and cities. These include provision of rural hostels and other aid.
“The efforts of all parties, including parents who encourage their children to pursue their studies, have seen Kota Marudu making marked improvements in the UPSR examination. For the 2015 USPR result, Kota Marudu came second for the whole of Malaysia for its District Average Grade performance which increased by 9.67 percent.
“Pupils who scored all As in their UPSR also increased by 225%, from 12 pupils in 2014 to 39 in 2015,” he said.
On his part as MP, Dr Maximus also initiated the “Excellent A Student” programme in 2014 whereby he rewards the pupils from 10 Kota Marudu schools classified as rural schools with RM100 for each As they score. For last year’s UPSR examination, 185 students obtained a total of 391 As.
Also present at the ceremony were SESB Managing Director Abd Razak Sallim, Tenaga Nasional Berhad Senior General Manager (Corporate Affairs and Communication) Datuk. Ir. Mohd. Aminuddin Mohd Amin, district officer Sualim Sanan and Sanaleh Daud from the district education office
The “Back to School” programme this year is being carried out in 19 parliamentary constituencies in nine states, namely Sabah, Kedah, Perak, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Johor, Pahang, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan with a total of 4,800 students receiving school aid worth RM1,230,000.
In 2013, a total of 1,299 students from 78 schools in seven (7) states in Peninsular Malaysia benefited from this programme, while in 2014, it involved 2,489 students from 109 schools in nine (9) states.
Earlier, Dr Maximus chaired that Kota Marudu Parliamentary Agriculture Development Council which decided to hold an Agriculture Info Day to be participated by the 12 agencies represented in the council. They include FELCRA Berhad, RISDA, District Fisheries Department and the district office.
The activities for the programme will include seminars on latest technologies in agriculture, modern techniques to ensure higher yield and business opportunities in agriculture.
“We hope farmers in Kota Marudu will take advantage of this programme to equip them with the latest knowledge to increase their agricultural output and incomes. Although Kota Marudu district is fast developing in the commercial, property and services sectors, agriculture is still an important economic sector that contributes to 75% of the economic activities here.
“Agriculture is also a sustainable economic sector that can still thrive in spite of economic slowdown due to downturn in oil prices,” he said.- SayangSabah