KOTA KINABALU: Federal Education Minister, Dr Maszlee Malik is positive on the request by Sabah that it be given more authority over its education matters, said Education and Innovation Assistant Minister, Jenifer Lasimbang.
So far, the response to Sabah’s demands was positive, she said, adding this was also part of restoring Sabah’s rights under the Malaysia Agreement 1963.
Met after representing State Education and Innovation Minister, Datuk Dr Yusof Yaacob to officiate at the 28th Anniversary celebration of Centre Point Sabah and opening of the Space X-Ploration programme at Palm Square in CPS here today, she however conceded that the matter was a complex one.
She said this when asked to comment on the latest development pertaining to the statement by Dr Yusof yesterday that the State government has made a formal request to the Federal government for autonomy on education infrastructures.
Lasimbang said among others the State education ministry had requested that the Education Ministry to allocate emergency fund to be placed under the purview of the State Education Department for fast disbursement to quickly resolve a school’s problem such as school building damages.
“Why do we have to wait for KL before we can get this small amount of fund?” she asked.
Lasimbang also said that the State government wanted to have bigger power over education because the situation in Sabah is very much different.
According to her, it was not practical to implement the national education policy, which makes it compulsory for children aged seven and above to attend school, in many areas in the state.
She said this was due to the challenging landscape and the way of life of the people in these areas.
“Personally, I don’t agree that a seven-year-old should be forced to stay in hostels because it is not positive to their development. They have to leave their families in pursuit of education.
“Even a university student could have a cultural shock, what more seven-year-old children who suddenly have to live a life extremely alien, away from their families,” she said.
Lasimbang who is also Moyog Assemblywoman said the state government was prepared to provide alternative education to children in the remote areas of the state instead of forcing them to attend government schools.
In Sabah, many children from remote rural areas are sent to boarding schools, and they only get to go home during the long school holidays.
But Lasimbang said in some places where there are not enough rooms in the hostels, children have to walk for hours daily to go to school.
She also found out that parents have to fork out up to RM200 for a boat ride in Pensiangan to send their children to school, on top of other expenses such as the school uniform and books.
She believed it was necessary to start exploring other ways to educate children in the state, including drafting curriculum based on the needs and resources available.
“As long as we are not confined to the national education policy, we can provide alternative ways of attaining education.
“There are many ways we can do this, provided we are not tied down to one policy where we have to send children to government schools for education. It includes homeschooling or perhaps community schooling,” she said.
She said the state ministry would be negotiating terms with the Ministry of Education, especially to make the education system more flexible.
Earlier, Lasimbang urged school children especially girls to be more interested in science.
“They should not be afraid of science because we need more innovators to find innovations that solve everyday problems,” she said.
On the Space X-Ploration, Lasimbang said it was a good programme as it exposed school goers to the fundamental of science, which she hoped could also be extended to schools in other places, especially in the rural area
Earlier, Lasimbang accompanied by Pan-Pacific Construction Holdings Sdn Bhd General Manager, Edward Cheng toured the various Space X-Ploration booths. -SabahNewsToday