Sukang school pleads for MoE help

National 2 minutes, 30 seconds

BELAIT

DATU Maharaja Setia Dian (DMSD) Primary School in remote Mukim Sukang is pleading to the Ministry of Education (MoE) to consider its plan to offer accommodation for students unable to find transport as it struggles to meet MoE’s attendance requirement of 85 per cent.

DMSD Headmistress Rosnah Datu Maharaja Setia Dian Hj Muhd Simpok yesterday said the school failed to meet the 85 per cent attendance requirement set by the Compulsory Education Act of 2007 last year.

She attributed this to transport problems. A number of parents from Sukang, searching for better employment opportunities in the sultanate’s towns, leave their children in the remote village without proper transport.

“There are cases where the parents leave to the city, but do not bring their children because they live in staff houses or unable to afford high rental costs. It may also be because they work odd or shifting work hours so accommodating the children with them is a problem,” said Rosnah.

She pointed out that these children are often left in Sukang with their grandparents, some of whom are unable to drive them to school.

As a temporary remedy, DMSD has initiated for a limited number of students with the most problematic attendance to be given the option of residing at two teacher staff houses in the school compound, but the move has yet to receive the official green light from MoE.

“We officially applied for the option of a hostel for students two years ago, but we have yet to receive approval. We are pleading to MoE because we cannot just leave these students to skip school. We must do something about it,” said the headmistress.

Rosnah added that this year's student population of 10 has not fared much better in terms of attendance.

The Head of Counselling and Career Guidance section under MoE's Department of Schools, who visited the school yesterday, agreed with the headmistress’ suggestion for a hostel as the most viable means to combat absenteeism.

“A hostel would be the best option, based on what I have heard and seen about the school’s problem,” said Hj Ali Yusri Abdul Ghafor, who also presented on the Compulsory Education Act at Sukang’s community hall before touring the school.

The headmistress said the school used to have three separate wooden staff houses, but one collapsed a few years ago due to frequent flooding. For the hostel option to be properly implemented, Rosnah proposed that the two staff houses be renovated.

“It may be costly to build a new house, so a more cost effective option would be to renovate the existing ones. We will need more rooms and they will have to be segregated for males and females.”

DMSD primary school, located 65km in land from Sg Liang, takes at least two hours to access whether from the capital or Kuala Belait, due to a near 20km stretch of off-road leading to the school which can only be accessed by four-wheel drives during periods of heavy downpour.

The Brunei Times