Tuesday, January 04, 2011

A Long Walk To School...

This is a touching story of six children in Kampung Bongkud, a remote village in Sabah, who have to walk nearly two hours to their school in Menggatal near Kota Kinabalu.
And another two hours to get home.

These six year-olds have to do it for the rest of the year, and the next....

They have no choice really because their village of only 10 houses, is so remote and the terrain so rough that you either reach it by foot, or four-wheel-drive vehicles and motorcycles during the dry season.

At the start of the new school term yesterday, these kids began their day gathering at the edge of their village before 6am to begin their long walk to SK Tombongan -- about 8km down a steep dirt track in the jungle and crossing rivers along the way.

Their school is about 35km from Kota Kinabalu.

Many before them went through the same thing.

Read the NST story HERE, and HERE.

A touching story, indeed. But it shouldn't end there. I remember similar stories that were highlighted in the media over the last 20 years about kids in remote villages having to take that journey everyday to school. They traverse winding paths through hills, jungles, cross rivers and streams....

Can you imagine that? Can you imagine your children -- no, YOU, having to go to work like that???

I know kids are a hardy lot. But, come on! These kids wake up at dawn and take a 2-hour walk through all that. And after school, they make that long trek home.

It exposes them to danger!

Surely, there is another way?

This is the 21st century. And we are supposed to have elected people to care for the welfare of these children....

I'm thinking of a hostel or something like that for these kids.

You see, right now, they don't have a choice. But surely we can give them some...

And on the subject of schools, I was reading a posting -A Message For The Ministry Of Education - by my blogging bro, Syed Akbar Ali (OutSyed The Box).

Actually, he reproduced a comment by one of his readers about how schools are making parents pay for all sorts of unnecessary things.

I'm not sure if all schools do that but I know the school my kids went to, did that.

You stop to wonder what all the payment was for. Then you reassure yourself that perhaps it's a standard practice by all schools. And besides, you can afford to pay, so you don't make a fuss.

But we should make a fuss. The high fees for God-knows-what are unacceptable and smack of daylight robbery.

It inflates the cost of giving your kids an education in PUBLIC schools.

Here's an excerpt from OutSyed The Box:

My son is in f5 and we have to pay up $262.50 for barang wajib. What is barang wajib? Its t shirts, cadar, lencana, sticker, track bottom etc. But these are items that we have already bought last year. If there is wear n tear, we can replace some. We shouldnt be replacing cadar atau lencana. But what the school did is to change the color of these items and force parents to buy.
Keperluan buku is $68.50 but most books from f4 are still not used. But parents have to pay. Bayaran sumbangan PIBG is $492 and one of the item is motivasi ($50). If motivation is not part of a teacher's job and has to be paid extra by parents, I think M'sian edu is doomed.
Why we parents are not happy? One, some of the parents have many schooling kids. If f5 one have to spend nearly $1600 on the first day of school, imagine you have 5 kids and some in colleges where they need $500/600 pmth for food and books. Perbelanjaan biasa mcm mana?

Also read his More Education Issues HERE


zamani zakariah said...

Well done Nuraina for picking up on this piece of news. I was very much touched by the news story. Almost 48 years after the formation of Malaysia (which Sabah and Sarawak joined Malaya and Singapore), we still have this kind of short comings. Surely, with advancement of technology and billions that have been spent for socio-economic development, such matters could have been resolved.

Just imagine, spending two hours going to school through jungle and crossing rivers and another two hours on their way back. What a waste of time and human physical resources (even though children may be very energetic).

Sabah and Sarawak are rich in natural resources and so is West Malaysia.

I hope the various authorities and agencies would put their acts together to give the people, especially the younger generations better conditions (not only for this Sabah community, but also for similar communities anywhere in Malaysia. We owe them this.

charleskiwi said...

The blame of this dire circumstance of these children should be on BN and the C.M. of Sarawak.
It is something no one can accept and especially after so many years joining Malaysia. One would like to think that the federal or the state governments would have done something long ago. But they were only interested in building up the fortunes of the Umno members. Who are these people to them just people !
They would surely have been better of without joining Malaysia just like Singapore and Brunei.
So it is time to vote the government out of their offices in the coming election.

Old Fart said...

Big Deal. For robert Long and his family it takes a two day walk to get to the nearest man made road to the nearest town!! Read "A life on Gorge River"..Robert Long!

GUiKP said...

i missed the Newsfocus - Back to School completely. Too preoccupied and distracted by the Letters to the Editor, and the news about shifting the academic term at Unis from July to Sept "to prevent the higher learning institutions in the country from losing outstanding SPM candidates to foreign universties". TQ for highlighting all that.

Anonymous said...

these are only isolated cases lah....

99% don't have any problems.....

don't be anti-national by highlighting these stories....

you could cause the be en to lose the erection....then what?

Anonymous said...

This is so not "politik pembangunan". What happens to this BN sarawak slogan? KM always says 'BN bawa politik pembangunan'..My foot politik pembangunan when our children have to walk on a daily basis 4hr to school. I don't get it.


VP said...

As if you don't know who is to be blamed for this Nur.I'l give you a clue "The Pirates of the B eNd"

Anonymous said...


These RM fees has been on for the last 10yrs.Hope Pak Mentri Muhyiddin act fast on this issue.


Anonymous said...

Menggatal is about 30 minutes drive from busy Kota Kinabalu.
How come someone in Menggatal area need to walk that 2hours just to get to school?
Is that bad in west Sabah up to Tuaran and Tamparuli? 10 years ago these places have good water and electricity supplies.
Who are these people and where these settlement actually are?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the parents may consider rural hostels at the nearest school.
Since only 10 houses in a village, it may also consider teacher teaching several classes at the same time. Not an easy task. But maybe for specially trained teachers they can handle kids at various ages sitting in the same class but going through different lesson plans.
Also, these are good places for teacher trainee to gain the real life experience.
But at least, dont allow our children to walk 4 hours daily to be in school. UNLESS u want to train them for the next Olympic Game.

Anonymous said...

Not related yet somehow related...

Fox Communications to cease operations come March 31 - The Star 6, Jan, 2011.

What do you think of the PR industry here in Malaysia?

Anonymous said...

Get fresh graduate teachers or those interested to go to remote places to teach children. Have insentives and bonuses for those brave and willing souls. Place jobs in newspapers and online job sites for those posts. I'm sure there's people more than willing to do it.

Anonymous said...

And i thought the 30 minute walk to the bus stop was bad. 2 hours! My God! Those kids should get 8As for SPM and a place in local uni just for thier effort!

Anonymous said...

Hey Nuraina,

Look up the Persatuan Kebajikan Good Shepherd (PKGS). They managed to raise funds to build a hostel for kids facing a simmilar problem in Kiulu, Sabah.Maybe you could highlight their story and attract more donations to build a hostel in Menggatal

Anak Sabah

selampit said...

OMG! Did you say TWO HOURS sis?

I could hardly endure ONE HOUR of traffic jams every time I drive to my place of work everyday.

IN MY CAMRY! Where I can automatically adjust the seat positions, while listening to Beethoven's symphony no. 9.

The question is, what are the local politicians going to do about this?

I believe that the hallmark of any civilized society is that the PEOPLE CARE FOR THE CHILDREN.

I'll be damned if we can send a man to space, whole at the same time let our children WALKED two hours - Camel Trophy style - to school every day

Anonymous said...

There are so many of such stories in Sabah and Sarawak!! No road to school, no bridge to cross river,not enough class rooms and etc etc... Everybody in Sabah and Sarawak know but Our Education Minister does not know..The Directors of Sabah and Sarawak Education department do not know .. even the Sabah CM and Sarawak CM do not know!!! What a shame!!!