Shortage of Tamil school students in Penang needs urgent attention - Exco

30 Oct 2023 09:23pm
Pix for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Bernama
Pix for illustration purpose only. - Photo by Bernama

GEORGE TOWN - Shortage of pupils is one of the issues plaguing Tamil vernacular schools (SJKT) in Penang after many of them followed their families in moving away when the estates stopped operating or shut down.

Penang Housing and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Seri Sundarajoo Somu said this caused the population in the areas to decrease and affected the school's student enrolment.

Sundarajoo, who is also the Penang Tamil Schools Committee chairman, said schools which experienced a decline in the number of pupils had to move to areas with a higher population so that student enrolment could be increased to the previous levels, thus re-establishing SJKT as a medium of the children's education.

"Our hope is to increase student enrolment in SJKT because we know that the history of Tamil schools began from estates... what is happening today is that these (estate) lands are no more there but the schools are still there.

"So, when the schools are there, the teachers are there but the students are not there because the estates are no longer there, this becomes a big problem that we must address as schools need to be moved in tandem with the migration of residents from these areas,” he said.

He said this at the meeting between the Penang State Tamil Schools Committee and the Malaysian School Principals Council, Parent and Teacher Association (PTA), Schools' Board of Governors (LPS) and Private Kindergarten Teachers here today.

Sundarajoo said there are currently 28 SJKT in Penang and hoped that the state government could play a role in helping to acquire land so that schools with a shortage of students can be moved to another more easily accessible location.

"For example, SJKT Bukit Mertajam used to have 600 pupils but only about 300 are left because many do not have access to transportation as they now live far away from the school,” he said.

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He said that apart from the shortage of pupils, the infrastructure and facilities in SJKT also need to be upgraded for a more conducive teaching and learning environment.

Sundarajoo said he would present the requests to Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow to increase the total allocation for SJKT to at least RM2.8 million compared to the current RM2 million per year, besides establishing a foundation to collect funds for the educational development of Indian students. - BERNAMA