Schools for Indons in Sabah

Schools for Indons in Sabah
Thursday March 30, 2006

PUTRAJAYA: There will be schools and teachers for children of Indonesians working in plantations in Sabah.

This was among the decisions made during bilateral talks between Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and Indonesian vice-president Jusuf Kalla here yesterday.

Their discussions also touched on the welfare of Indonesian maids in Malaysia and cooperation in the palm oil sector.

The two governments agreed that Malaysia would encourage oil palm companies to build basic and practical schools in their plantations, while Indonesia will send teachers to educate the workers children.

Najib said thousands of Indonesians working in Sabah had brought along their families, and added that he was confident the plantations would see the need to build the schools for them.

This would also result in a more stable workforce for the plantations, he told reporters at his office here.

If the workers have no worries about their childrens education, they will stay on and work for a longer period. Employers too need not have to worry about high turnover of workers, he said.

Kalla said Indonesia had asked for the school facilities so that the children of Indonesian plantation workers would continue to have an Indonesian education.

He said these children would not be accepted into local government schools and could not afford to go to private schools in Malaysia.

Indonesia felt that the solution was to send its teachers here.

However, we need help in getting premises for the purpose. The children will be educated according to the Indonesian curriculum.

This is our effort in ensuring that our future generations get a basic education, he said, adding that the problem was more prevalent in Sabah than in peninsular Malaysia, as Indonesian workers in the peninsula rarely brought their families along.

On the issue of maids, Najib said the two countries would sign a memorandum of understanding by the middle of this year regarding the welfare and interests of Indonesian domestic help in Malaysia.

He said Indonesia wanted a fairer deal for its maids, including the possibility of getting employers to bear the cost of the levy.

Currently, an Indonesian maid would not be paid for the first two or three months of employment as the salary would be deducted to reimburse employers for the levy.

On cooperation in the oil palm industry, the two leaders expressed confidence that both Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta would greatly benefit by working together, especially with the increase in world demand for palm oil and future demand for biodiesel.

We have the capital expenditure, and technical and management expertise, while Indonesia has vast land area and workforce, said Najib.