THE Penang government is appealing to the public to give some time and space for the land owner of SK Convent Light Street, SMK Convent Light Street and SMK Convent Pulau Tikus to provide details pertaining to the future of the convent schools.
Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said the state government planned to listen to the explanation by the land owner before deciding how the state could cooperate on the matter.
“Based on news report, the land owner wanted to bring the schools ‘back to their original purpose’,” Chow told a press conference before attending the Penang Development Corporation (PDC) Hari Raya open house at PDC today.
Chow said there were many types of schools in Penang; and schools were divided into fully-assisted schools and capital-assisted schools.
“For capital-assisted schools, the Government or the Education Ministry is only responsible for sending teachers and administrative staff to the schools, as well as conduct lessons and exams. The assets and land do not come under the ministry.
“These schools will be considered as capital-assisted schools until they surrender land and premises ownership to the Government,” Chow explained.
Chow said, in the case of the convent schools and most Chinese vernacular schools, the land and sometimes the building belong to an association, church or the Board of Governors.
“Many Chinese vernacular schools face financial problems, but they refuse to surrender to the ministry.
“It is not the wish of the community to surrender them. This is because they want to maintain their own identity and their right to vernacular education,” he added.
Responding to Bukit Gelugor MP Ramkarpal Singh’s statement, Chow said education comes under the purview of the Federal Government.
Ramkarpal had reportedly urged the state to take the necessary steps to acquire the land (where the three convent schools are situated) under the Land Acquisition Act 1960 to save the schools and maintain them as they are.
“It can be done. However, it comes under the responsibility of the Federal Government. We will have to see what the intention of the ministry is,” Chow said.
The Penang government has set July 19 to meet up with the Lady Superior of the Society of Saint Maur from the Sisters of The Infant Jesus Malaysia (the land owner of the three convent schools) to further discuss the matter.
Story by Christopher Tan
Pix by Darwina Mohd Daud
Video by Law Suun Ting