Efforts underway to save 90-year-old SK Assumption from closing

·3-min read
Efforts underway to save 90-year-old SK Assumption from closing
Efforts underway to save 90-year-old SK Assumption from closing

SK Assumption in Butterworth, a missionary school founded in the 1930s, is set to close down permanently in late February, with its 55 pupils due to be transferred to other schools.

However, Penang Deputy Chief Minister P Ramasamy is among those working to prevent the sudden closure, which is reportedly due to a land developer deciding to ask for the property to be returned.

In a statement by the Save Assumption School Joint Taskforce, spokesperson Vernon Christopher Fernandez said a meeting was held yesterday between the alumni, Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and the state Education Department.

Fernandez said that at the meeting, the Education Ministry announced that the school will be closed with effect from Feb 28, 2022.

"The ‘instruction’ to meet was called by the Education Ministry giving the recipients less than 24 hours of notice.

"A joint task force comprising representatives from the Parents-Teachers Association, the Assumption Butterworth Alumni Association, and pro-tem Board of Governors was quickly formed.

"But there was insufficient time for many other interested parties to attend, sadly the most important being representatives of the landowner," said Fernandez.

He said that the meeting was chaired by Abdul Said Hussain, Deputy Director of Education.

"It was not a meeting to engage all stakeholders to seek solutions but simply a pronouncement of a decision made by higher-ups to inform the stakeholders, especially the students and their parents to accept the decision."

Fernandez said they were told the private landowner (Sri Avenue Sdn Bhd) had requested for the return of the land and building “as soon as possible”.

Nonetheless, the joint task force was given fourteen days to find a solution.

The school was established as a missionary school in 1933 on Jalan New Ferry, and later relocated by a developer to Bagan Dalam.

"The top priority of the task force is the welfare and wellbeing of the students. As a mission school with limited funding from the Education Ministry, the landowner, the old boys and other caring stakeholders have taken the lead to provide relief in funds, material and sponsorship over the years.

"Funds also came from elected representatives in the area. Since the students are few and most come from the B40 group, the teachers have been exemplary in giving them more attention and nurturing them. To put them into another school with high enrolment classes would impact them both psychologically and socially," said Fernandez.

Fight still on, says Ramasamy

Ramasamy did not mince his words when addressing the issue, laying the blame squarely on the Education Ministry.

"It miserably failed to live up to its earlier promise to buy the land from the private owner. In fact, it was the ministry that built the school after it was relocated from the original site.

"I don’t understand why there was no decision to purchase the land from the owner, something that was promised," he said.

Ramasamy added that the ministry had made no representation to the state government all these years to acquire the land.

"If the ministry had requested, the Penang state government would have acquired the land for the purpose of the school.

"Now out of the blue, a decision has been taken to close down the school," he added.

He said he will be having a meeting with the relevant parties and will insist that the school be saved.

"Like other missionary schools in the country, it has provided excellent and quality education to generations of students.

"The idea is to build more schools, not to reduce them on the basis of indefensible reasons," he concluded.

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