Rotten Mattresses & Broken Beds: The State Of Rural School Hostels In Sarawak Revealed
"In school hostels, facilities such as mattresses, closets, cabinets, and beds are often overlooked."
A recent report by The Borneo Post revealed the terrible state of some of the rural school hostels in Sarawak
The English daily spoke to Wellie Henry Majang, the president of Dayak Think Tank Group (DTTG), who said that the Sarawak Education Department must look into the dilapidated conditions and lack of facilities in rural school hostels, especially in Miri and Sri Aman.
"In school hostels, facilities such as mattresses, closets, cabinets, and beds are often overlooked," he said, as reported by The Borneo Post.
Some of the hostels even lack basic necessities such as clean water and electricity
According to Wellie, issues like these are common in rural schools, sadly.
"Although it is just a small issue, the implication is great because it will affect the students' emotion," he added.
He said that the mattresses, cupboards, and cabinets in the hostels are usually five or six years past their use date. "We cannot assume all these facilities can last up to 10 years or more merely because there is no request from the school to have them replaced."
The DTTG president has received several complaints from parents who have expressed great dissatisfaction and disappointment over the condition of these public school hostels.
"Imagine our children sleeping on 'rotten' and smelly mattress, broken beds that have been repaired many times, living in a hostel with broken cupboards and falling doors. These will affect their studies."
Wellie implored the Sarawak Ministry of Education, Science, and Technological Research to monitor the conditions of these hostels and ensure that they are well maintained for the sake of the students.
For parents living in rural areas, these public schools are the only option they have, thus it's crucial for the Education Ministry to be responsible for the upkeep of the hostels that serve as temporary homes for the students.
"We are not asking for everything to be perfect, but at least a condition comfortable for the students so that they can study with peace of mind.
"Parents from rural areas are 'shy' and afraid to voice their concern about conditions at their children's schools. If that is the case, please go through the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA)," said Wellie, after stressing on the importance of making a formal complaint via proper channels for the issue to be resolved immediately.
This is not the first time news of the poor conditions at rural public schools has been highlighted in the media.
In 2015, The Malaysian Insider (TMI) reported about a primary school in Lawas, SK Long Sukang, which was basically a tattered wooden building.
The Education Ministry stepped in with the promise of a new building in 2010 and five years later, the students and teachers were left with an unfinished building instead.
With little choice, the students were forced to move in and start using the building and since it is a boarding school, the children had to live in the same place. They were crammed together, sleeping on thin mattresses on cold floors.
The extensive report by TMI said that about three buildings were somewhat complete, with two dorms and a dining hall. Making the best out of the situation, the teachers converted one of the dorms into a classroom and the other was used as the sleeping area.
The situation went on for more than two years, and only improved much later after the Education Ministry promised to solve the issue.