An ancient school lives on charity

Amirah Wahid learns with her ethnic Chinese classmates. Behind her are (from left, row by row) Manchini Jiunn Chong, Chloe Mae Pang and Raphael Lo Zheng Xuen.

Free desks and chairs are welcomed at Kota Kinabalu’s Chung Hwa

By Shalina R
Pictures by Oliver Majaham

Dr Yee Moh ChaiLee Lam ThyeIt started life in 1917 as a private school with 30 pupils. The Chung Hwa Chinese primary school in Kota Kinabalu founded by Oh Hou Teck, an ethnic Chinese entrepreneur of Fujian, has since grown into a government-aided one of 2,324. But it has never ceased to live on charity. Recently the S P Setia Foundation, thanks to Sabah deputy chief minister Dr Yee Moh Chai, gave it 500 desks and chairs that cost almost 60,000 ringgit ($18,815). They are a timely gift to replace worn out ones in its 48 classrooms, according to Chong Lee Li, a teacher who has been with the school for 15 years.

Lee Lam Thye, the foundation chairman, says it was Dr Yee who alerted his foundation of the school’s plight. In his own sure and quiet way Dr Yee, who is also minister of resource development and information technology, has helped with school repairs and a basketball court, according to Eng Thiam Leong, the school principal. In 2005 Dr Yee created a teachers' day greeting card with which pupils honour their teachers every year.

Founded in 1917 with 30 pupils, Chung Hwa now has 2,324 pupils but it is still dependent on handouts.

S P Setia foundation is the charity arm of one of Malaysia’s property conglomerates. It is turning a 25-hectare (60-acre) site of the Sabah State Railway in Tanjung Aru into a 1.6-billion ringgit ($528m) township and transport hub.

The government pays the salaries of the school’s 89 teachers. But Chung Hwa has to depend on donations for its upkeep. The Kota Kinabalu Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry which owns it has been giving it between 30,000 and 50,000 ringgit a year. And the Sabah government gives it an annual grant of about 80,000 ringgit.

Pupils do not pay fees. About 30% of them are Malays, Kadazandusuns and Muruts.

Lee says his foundation has given 150,000 ringgit to kindergartens in Penampang and Keningau on the outskirts of Kota Kinabalu. It has also paid 188,000 ringgit for a community learning centre at Kampung Kalampun in Keningau. – Insight Sabah

A pod of gold ►

A teachers' card says it all ►

A Sabahan's tribute to teachers catches on

To teacher, with love ►

Posted on June 5, 2012

Malay 中文 Kadazan
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