Sarawak says yes to CLCs but not Sekolah Indonesia

KUCHING: Sarawak will not allow “Sekolah Indonesia” to be built in the state.

Instead, the state Welfare, Women and Family Development Ministry, which is in charge of education for the state, has decided to allow Community Learning Centres (CLC) to be set up at oil palm estates.

So far, 16 estate owners, mostly in Bintulu and Miri, have expressed interest to operate the CLCs for families of workers.

The number of possible pupils from the 16 estates is around 770.

State officials will visit a model CLC on Jan 20.

State Welfare, Women and Family Development Minister Datuk Fatimah Abdullah said other revisions include a requirement for CLC to be owned by Malaysian plantation owners.

“They can only be owned and operated by the estate owners. What is the implication of this change? Well, accountability is on the owner. It’s part of their corporate social responsibility for their workers’ welfare,” Fatimah told reporters here on Wednesday.

Last year, Indonesian President Joko Widodo sealed a deal with the Malaysian Government to extend education to the children of Indonesian workers in Sarawak and Sabah’s oil palm industry.

According to Indonesian media, there could be as many as 51,000 children of

Indonesian parents in the two east Malaysian states, of which up to 30,000 might not have access to basic education.

Fatimah said talks to set up schools here began during Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s presidency.

“It was a Government-to-Government negotiation. Indonesia asked for it. They asked for Sekolah Indonesia to be set up, which would have been funded by them with their curriculum. We learnt from Sabah, where many Sekolah Indonesia have been set up.

“We made a decision to allow CLCs but not Sekolah Indonesia,” she said.

Another requirement with regard to CLCs, Fatimah said, was a requirement for Bahasa Melayu, History, Islamic Studies or Moral to be taught.

Children of Malaysian estate workers will not be allowed to be enrolled.

“However, we might offer some flexibility on a case-by-case basis. It is my own personal belief that children of Malaysians will benefit much more by studying at Malaysian schools,” Fatimah said.