KOTA MARUDU: Children of two schools in northern Sabah can look forward to a brighter future with the building of two rural hostels to provide better learning facilities for them.
The hostels in SK Pantai in Pitas and SK Tanjung Batu in Kota Marudu, costing RM350,000 and RM300,000 respectively, are sponsored by the Al-Bukhary Foundation.
Kota Marudu member of parliament Datuk Seri Panglima Dr Maximus Ongkili had approached the foundation earlier this year to undertake a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project by providing hostels for four primary schools in northern Sabah.
“We are grateful to the Al-Bukhary Foundation which had kindly agreed to build us four hostels of which we have identified SK Pantai in Pitas and SK Tanjung Batu, SK Timbang Batu and SK Tagibang in Kota Marudu.
“This was also made possible because the man behind the foundation, Tan Sri Syed Mokhtar Al-Bukhary, himself is a simple and humble man who believed that you will be further enriched if you enrich others too,”Dr Maximus said.
SK Pantai hostel was launched on Saturday and SK Tanjung Batu hostel on Sunday by Dr Maximus.
The fun-filled launching ceremonies were attended by Al- Bukhary Foundation adviser Dato’Abdul Aziz Shahar, MMC Corporation Bhd group managing
director Dato’Sri Che Khalid Mohammad Nor and Malakoff Corp Bhd chief executive officer Dato’Sri Syed Faisal Albar, along with excited students and teachers.
The hostels are equipped with mattresses, bunk beds, cupboards and a study area.
SK Pantai headmaster Joseph Lumandan expressed the school’s gratitude for the hostel which can accommodate 52 boys and girls.
“The hostel will be able to meet the needs of the students living far from school as distance had posed a hindrance for them to attend classes. This is reflected in the school’s attendance and UPSR results, a problem that is common in rural schools,”he said.
Meanwhile, SK Tanjung Batu headmaster Ali Hassan Ismail said the students in his school come from five distant villages with the furthest being 11km away or a two-hour walk to school.
“Absenteeism is seasonal in our school. During rainy days, many pupils will not turn up, especially those who live far and walk to school. Hence, having this hostel will certainly help overcome their predicament.
“The school’s passing rate for UPSR was 23.3% in 2012 and it improved to 44.82% with one pupil scoring 5As. As the pupils can now live in the vicinity of the school and focus better on their study, we have set a goal of achieving at least 60% passing rate with four students obtaining 5As for the UPSR examination next year,” he said.
Dr Maximus added that he had chosen SK Pantai in Pitas for one of the four hostels even though it is not in his parliamentary constituency as he wanted to help provide better education opportunities for the children in Pitas.
“We have a close relationship with the communities in Pitas, which is just next door to Kota Marudu. This is also part of our efforts to develop northern Sabah, in this case, through education as education is key to the development of an individual and his community,”he said.
While hostels are not provided in government primary schools of less than 500 pupils, the need for the hostels is great in rural Sabah, Dr Maximus said, adding that close cooperation with the private sector and NGOs was thus pivotal in getting funds to build the facility.
“It is our community’s loss if the children cannot get education due to lack of facilities and impediments like distance from school. Hence, we do our best to provide the necessary infrastructure to encourage the children to pursue education,”he added.
At the two events, the foundation also presented 200 school bags, uniforms and school shoes for students in the two schools.