Sunday, June 20, 2021

More explanation needed for ending Convent Bukit Nanas lease

The explanation given that the school is to be made a fully aided institution is neither convincing nor acceptable for one that has been operating on its own for 120 years.

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The FT land and mines director’s explanation reported in the media as to why the lease for Convent Bukit Nanas was not renewed is not convincing nor does it make any sense.

Normally the FT land and mines office does not get involved in such type of public deliberations nor does it make such policy decisions. Such policy decisions are made by the Cabinet after input from the relevant ministers as they involve the continued role of mission schools in Malaysia.

These are matters to be decided by the Cabinet after extensive stakeholder discussions and not something the federal comissioner of land or the director of lands and mines are authorised to do on their own.

In fact the former various ministers in charge of natural resources at the relevant times should shed light on this matter as the application to renew the lease was allegedly made as reported in the media on Oct 4, 2017 and the rejection received on Dec 18, 2020 (nearly three years later). They should let the public know whether such an application was ever referred to them at all during their tenure or if such a policy decision made as the basis of rejecting the application especially since a similiar male mission school nearby had its lease extended.

It seems, from the media reports, the effective reason that they would not renew the lease is because they want to give the Convent Bukit Nanas school more funds by making it a fully aided school is certainly not a convincing or acceptable reason at all for a school that has been operating fine on its own for 120 years despite being only partly funded by the government and yet expected to do national service and educate all Malaysians regardless of race, religion or economic status and without profit and fully in accodence with the government’s education syllabus.

Can the director of land and mines confirm if he informed the trustees of the school or the PTA that the government wanted to give them more money and upgrade their facilities if they gave up the land and agreed to the school being a fully funded school?

Was such a letter issued or were there various meetings held to explain the situation to the school as would be expected of the government when dealing with a 120-year-old school of national reputation?

Please enlighten the public. After all such “generosity” was not extended to a similiar male mission school nearby, or is this special treatment for girls’ schools only?

Was the education ministry involved in stakeholder dialogues?

Was the school even asked in writing if it could continue to run and educate Malaysians as it had done for 120 years according to the government’s standards without full funding?

Surely this question would have to be asked before such a policy based decision was allegedly made.

Sadly there is no indication of this process which would be a legitimate expection of the school if there was such a policy.

Moreover such an alleged policy is totally without merit and even if true, would be totally outdated because it is based on an illogical distinction between fully aided and partially schools in 2021.

This purported distinction ignores the basic fact that such schools are open to all Malaysians, irrespective of race and religion, and the government syllabus is taught to all without discrimination.

The government should fund all schools regardless of such a distinction where the school provides national education for all Malaysians without profit according to the government syllabus and curriculum.

Such schools were originally built with money raised by the IJ Sisters and publuc donations and with no financial assistance from the government.

The dedication of educationists who made huge sacrifices, who devoted their lives to the education of all Malaysians, especially the last, the lost and the least.

Many MPs, corporate leaders, entrepreneurs, parents and citizens have benefited greatly from their efforts as has the whole nation.

These mission schools have become some of the leading educational institutions in the country.

Many even today owe their standing in life and society to the sisters because of the sacrifices of these educationists.

The education provided was wholesome and holistic, and they instilled good moral values, loyalty and discipline in every student.

This explanation, if it is to be believed, suggests that as repayment and gratitude for their efforts, the sisters and educationists of Convent Bukit Nanas who gave their all to educate tens of thousands of Malaysians without salary or pension at standards of excellence that only dedicated educationists can do, are now told that the school will revert back to the government so they can repair the slope if and when it collapses or give them more money to upgrade.

This appears to be the thanks for them after 120 years of service but they can appeal to the federal commissioner of lands if the sisters want a futher role. I hope the government will realise the travesty and gross injustice of what is being done and renew the lease of Convent Bukit Nanas for a better Malaysia and the dedicated educationists who have fought so hard to educate our women, many who have since made tremendous contributions to nation-building and society.

It is not lost upon us that it seems this is not the first partially funded women’s school in Kuala Lumpur to suffer this fate, and the government can no longer ignore this.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.

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