Health clinics jammed with 26,000 illiterate pupils!!

26,000 ‘illiterate’ pupils
By Zora Chan

That is the number of Year One and Two pupils unable to read and write, although director says problem not alarming

KUCHING: About 26,000 primary one and two pupils here have yet to master two basic skills of reading and writing or the 2M (membaca dan menulis), State Education director Rabiah Johari said.

She assured the problem was not alarming as the pupils were still in their early schooling years and would eventually pick up both skills.

“But if the problem persists to Year Three, parents should bring their children to health clinics for a check up to determine what’s the problem – be it autism, dyslexia, mental retardation or learning disability.

“They can send their children either to special schools or schools with special classes to meet their children’s needs,” she told reporters after opening a convention on learning problems in early schooling at Santubong near here yesterday.

Source: The Borneo Post Online, 14 June 2007
Full article:

I was surprised to read this front page news in Borneo Post yesterday. It was indeed alarming to read on the problem facing our early education system. How could the State Education Director, Rabiah Johari said that it is not alarming when we have 26,000 pupils who have yet to master the basic skill or reading and writing.

The function of all our pre-school system, including those of Tabika KEMAS, etc. should be review since these pupils (if not all) came from pre-school.

The statistics could also means that the odd 26,000 pupils did not attend pre-school education or the teachers in Primary One and Two were not up to their mark in executing early childhood education.

On the issue of having to send the pupil to health clinic to screen for autism, dyslexia, mental retardation or learning disability, is there any Programme KIA2M (Early Intervention Class for Reading and Writing Programme) screening in Year Three to identify the level of literacy of those identified pupil in Year Two? What if the figure is reduced to one-third, and that should make 7,800 pupils to be having any of those “disease” .. Do the government have enough places to accommodate these special students? Is the government clinic ready to receive these big numbers of pupils who need to undergo health check (never mind the waiting time that these pupil have to wait at the clinic based on the seriousness of their condition, which in this case, is unseen).

To avoid complication on this issue, I suggest that the Education Dept., come up with more detailed statistics and make it transparent to the public. With thousands of Guru Sandaran being posted to the rural schools, we hope that the tax payers money is worth it!

To Rabiah Johari, it is essential that your department, to publish the breakdown of the statistics and make it known to the public. I am sure there is some numbers concerning the various ethnic groups in Sarawak. And, if those numbers and our identification to the areas, we believe, the various NGOs can lend a helping hand to reduce and to disseminate the correct information downwards to the community leaders.

3 thoughts on “Health clinics jammed with 26,000 illiterate pupils!!”

  1. The function of the preschool should not be an issue unless it is included in the School Compulsory System. But have you checked the price for sending children to pre-school lately? The question is more to – what are the teachers of Primary One actually doing? Making study plans instead of trying to understand their students’ need. 50% of 365 days, at least they should be able to teach the children ‘This is a pencil.’ ‘This is a book.’ REVERT back to the old curriculum please. Let SCHOOL LIFE start at Primary One. You don’t have to cut short a child happiness just because you can’t find a baby-sitter or “mothers are reluctant to take care of their own children”.

    The stats shown are only for Primary One & Two. I know of a Primary Six student who had just learned to read – but not from the teachers who went to training colleague and later took study-leaves to get a Bachelor/Diploma – but a housewife.

  2. First of all, never mind that the personnel who man health clinics probably are not qualified to diagnose learning disabilities.

    (Labeling a child with autism/dyslexia/other LDs is not something to be undertaken lightly, and can only be done after extensive interviewing by a proper child psychiatrist.)

    Does she honestly think that the incidence of learning disabilities is REALLY that high within a certain population? Does she honestly think it is a COINCIDENCE that these “disabilities” seem to be curiously more prevalent among Sarawakian children, than say, children in other states, who do display a higher literacy rate?

    Or, is this a convenient excuse to explain the 26 000 children who can’t read/write, rather than addressing the EDUCATION – syllabus AND teachers – of these children.

  3. In Miri, pre-school fees range from RM30 – RM320 per month. Bintang Ria charges RM320 for a half day session and extra RM200 for a full day session. Sri Mawar charges RM200 plus per month for a half day session.

    I did visited Sri Mawar and Bintang Ria, and see how the Level 1 and 2 classes are like. I said “hello” and both centres didn’t respond!! Even after 2nd and 3rd attempt. The pupils only respond after a shout by their teacher :D

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