Stay overnight in longhouses, Puad challenges Fadhlina

"Eperience firsthand the challenges faced by students receiving education there."

02 May 2024 12:41pm
Mohd Puad Zarkashi
Mohd Puad Zarkashi

JOHOR BAHRU - Umno Supreme Council member Datuk Dr Mohd Puad Zarkashi, has challenged Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek to stay overnight in a longhouse or rural area to experience firsthand the challenges faced by students receiving education there.

This challenge follows a World Bank report indicating that only 58 per cent of students in Malaysia become proficient readers when they finish standard 5.

Puad, who is also the Johor State Legislative Assembly Speaker, said the report exposed shortcomings in the national education system compared to regional countries like Vietnam.

"If we follow the logic, it seems illogical. The education budget is very high every year. We have also revamped education policies several times.

"It cannot be denied that the Education Ministry (MOE) has many highly qualified experts. Where is the mistake?

"In reality, the World Bank has provided concrete answers as to why this is happening. Therefore, the MOE should focus on addressing these causes and finding more effective ways to overcome them.

"One of the issues is limited access to quality preschool education, especially in rural areas. Many children in rural areas still do not attend preschool," he said in a Facebook post.

He highlighted that the most complicated problem was schools being too far in rural areas. Some students have to walk or take boats to get to school.

Related Articles:

Hence, they need to stay in village hostels if they want to attend school.

"The problem is, how do preschool children stay in hostels? Preschool children are not suitable to live in hostels, especially if they still use diapers.

"This is why many cannot attend preschool. It is not feasible for them to walk or take boats back and forth to preschool. It involves diesel costs," he said.

Puad said that although MOE had preschools in longhouses, not all longhouses have preschools and not all preschool teachers were willing to stay in longhouses.

He noted that some non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and corporations have established 'Rumah Arau' near schools, where parents and preschool students live together.

"On weekends, they return to the longhouse to meet their husbands and collect cooking supplies like rice.

"However, how many ‘Rumah Arau’ have been built? Therefore, many children in rural areas do not attend preschool. This contributes significantly to the 42 per cent of children who are not proficient in reading by the age of five.

"To the Education Minister, kindly stay overnight in a longhouse or rural area. I challenge you. Do not be a lazy minister," he said.