KUCHING (Sept 28): Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Dato Sri Michael Manyin has dismissed an academician’s claim that the setting up of five English-medium international secondary schools in the state might contravene the provisions of the Education Act 1996.
“We have studied the relevant laws and have had extensive engagements with the Ministry of Education (MoE) and have complied with the requirements of the Ministry in every step of the process of setting up these schools,” said Manyin during a press conference at Baitulmakmur Building, Petra Jaya here today.
In a news portal, a professor from Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia said education matter, which comes under the purview of the federal government and the Education Act 1996, requires all government schools, including state-owned international schools, to use Bahasa Melaysia as a medium of instruction.
Manyin clarified the five international schools to be set up are owned and maintained by Sanjung Services Sdn Bhd, a private company registered under the Companies Act 2006 and a subsidiary of Yayasan Sarawak.
He said the decision to set up the schools was also considering the responsibility of the state to protect its rights as regards its education policies as stated in paragraph 17 of the Inter-Governmental Committee Report (IGC Report) 1962.
“ … although Education, item 13(a) of the Federal list in the Ninth Schedule will be a Federal subject, the present policy and system of administration of education in North Borneo and Sarawak should be undisturbed and remain under the control of the government of the state until that government otherwise agrees,” stated the IGC Report as read out by Manyin.
“In particular: (i) the present policy in the Borneo States regarding the use of English should continue…,” continued Manyin, pointing out the state had never passed any law that departs from this policy since 1963 until today.
Manyin also remarked Section 15 of the Education Act 1996 [Act 550] does not include education in international schools.
“To reiterate the above, the proposed Yayasan Sarawak International Secondary Schools are not government schools within the definition of the Act.
“They are private schools as they will be owned and operated by a company just like most of the other private international schools that are currently operating in Malaysia.”
Moreover, Manyin said the earth breaking ceremony of an international school located at Mile 12 recently was only done after obtaining a letter of support from MoE and the letter dated July 17 with a reference number of KPM600-8/1/1Jld7(68), which explicitly stated that Sanjung Services Snd Bhd has fulfilled the criteria under MoE to set up international schools.
“I would like to state that Sarawak is a law abiding state and that we take extra care to make sure that every initiatives and programs that we undertake do not contravene the laws of Malaysia,” he added.
Manyin said the latest Malaysian International School Market Intelligence report by ISC Research showed that the enrolment in private international schools has grown 61.2 per cent from 60,400 in July 2013 to 97,300 in July 2019.
“As at January 2020, there were 280 English medium international schools with total enrolment of 100,060 students at both primary and secondary levels of which 70 per cent are Malaysians.”
Manyin said the five international schools were mooted by the Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg as part of a strategic long-term initiative to provide opportunity to children with high potential but from underprivileged background with access to quality international education.
Manyin also said the state government had complemented and supplemented the efforts of MoE and State Department of Education.