Putrajaya allows Sarawak to use RM1b loan repayment for school repairs

?The federal government has agreed that an RM1 billion loan repayment from the Sarawak government will be used to repair dilapidated schools in the state, Education Minister Maszlee Malik said.

He said the federal Cabinet has given its approval for the loan repayment to be utilised to fix dilapidated schools in Sarawak.

?This decision followed an agreement reached between Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Openg and myself during a courtesy yesterday, during which issues that would benefit 436,000 students in Sarawak were discussed,? Maszlee said in a statement.

He said a special committee, with members from the Education Ministry, Finance Ministry and Sarawak government, will be formed to ensure that the management of the fund is clean and a transparent process can be implemented.

?At the implementation stage, the Sarawak Public Works Department has been entrusted as the implementing agency,? he said.

Maszlee said the federal Cabinet has also agreed for the fixing of dilapidated school projects to be closely monitored to ensure that the RM1 billion will be used in the most efficient manner and benefit all the students and teachers of the schools involved.

?I would like to the federal government and the Sarawak chief minister for agreeing with me to ensure that access to quality education is a reality in future for all the children in the state,? he said.

Last year, Sarawak offered to loan RM1 billion to the then Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government to fix dilapidated schools in the state.

However, the loan offer was rejected by the new Pakatan Harapan federal government.

The state government had also suggested two years ago for it to use its outstanding loans to fix dilapidated schools or build new ones, instead of repaying the federal government.

State Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Seri Michael Manyin had said there were 1,020 dilapidated schools in the state, of which 415 were considered critically dilapidated.

He had also said 371 schools did not have electricity supply and were fully dependent on generator sets, while 428 schools lacked treated water supply.

In addition, he had said 721 schools did not have proper road access, including 200 which were only accessible by river or sea.

Source: Malay Mail

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