Primary school at fishing village still has just one pupil
TAIPING: With no enrolment of Year One pupils when the new school term started yesterday, SJK (C) Aik Hua on Pasir Hitam island in Trong still has just one pupil.
He is now in Year Two.
Located in a small fishing village 35km from here, the school made headlines last year when Oon Sheng Juin became the only pupil of the school.
The school is among 445 of the 1,298 Chinese-medium primary schools in the country categorised as “low enrolment schools” with fewer than 150 pupils.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said the ministry would meet the schools’ authorities on their future.
“I understand there are those who wish to preserve the legacy of their long-running schools and it would be a shame to shut them down.
“There are also schools that go the extra mile providing transport to pupils who live far away.
“But we have to look at this from a practical point of view.
“A school operating with one pupil does not provide a conducive learning environment,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
“The pupil will not get the chance to make friends and take part in school activities and competitions which would help to boost competitiveness and performance.
“Operational costs are also high. Whether a school has one or 10 pupils, it is considered a basic cost to appoint at least two security guards, two cleaners, a clerk, a principal and several teachers,” Chong said.
Chong said the ministry was looking to discuss with the schools’ board of governors on the possibility of relocating to areas that were in need of vernacular schools.
“For schools without any Year One enrolment this year, it is normal procedure to wait at least a year or two before making the call to shut down or relocate,” he said.
Earlier, Chong visited two other low enrolment schools in Trong – SJK (C) Ngai Seng and SJK (C) Sungai Rotan – to understand their predicament.
SJK (C) Ngai Seng started the new school term with nine pupils, including two Year One pupils while SJK (C) Rotan has only one Year Five pupil, two Year Three pupils and one Year One pupil.