Tuesday, September 7, 2010

St John's Institution needs assistance

Ceiling falling down on St John's Institution  By Noel Achariam streets@nstp.com.my
As an interim measure, the school has hired a contractor to seal up the ceiling with plywood. — Picture by Shafuan Sabri
KUALA LUMPUR: The science laboratories of a premier school in the city have been closed for more than six months for safety reasons. Two physics laboratories at SMK St John's, better known as St John's Institution, had to be closed because the ceilings had developed cracks and pieces had started to fall.
Headmaster Leong Kum Loy believes the cracks were caused by the fumes from experiments carried out over the years.
 "Since early this year, the laboratories have remained closed and lessons are carried out in the classrooms or in other laboratories. This has put a lot of strain on the school's facilities," he said.
There are four laboratories. Two are closed for safety reasons and the other two are also slowly developing cracks in the ceilings.
Leong said the Federal Territory State Education Department and the Public Works Department had visited the school to assess the damage.
 "The Public Works Department recommended repairs costing RM500,000.
"We have asked the Federal Territory State Education Department for their assistance but they have yet to decide on the matter," he said.
Leong said it had been challenging maintaining the government-aided 106-year-old school established by the La Salle Brothers on Jan 18, 1904.
 "The maintenance grant provided by the government is simply not enough to pay for utilities or minor repairs.
"Hence the school is dependent on the alumni, the Parent-Teacher Association and the Board of Governors to raise funds for the general operation, maintenance and repair of the school," he said.
As an interim measure, the school had hired a contractor to seal up the ceilings with plywood.
Leong said if no action were taken, they might have to use the damaged laboratories next year.
"We don't have enough laboratories for our students and we may have to use the laboratories next year even if the ceilings are not repaired," he said.
Last week, several old boys from the class of 1965 visited the school to see how they could help their alma mater.
High Court Malaya Judicial Commissioner Justice Mah Weng Kwai, who organised the trip down memory lane for the old boys, said the school was in dire need of funds.
"We have come to listen to the problems faced by the school and we have decided to help raise some funds for the science laboratories. We hope that more former-Johanians will come forward to lend a helping hand," he said.
Federal Territory Education director Mohd Adenan Deraman said the department was aware of the issue and was preparing a report to be submitted to the Education Ministry.
"We understand that the problem at SMK St John's is critical and needs to be addressed promptly.
"Our officers are preparing a report on the damage at the school and we will expedite the report in the next few days to the Education Ministry," he said.
St John's Institution was recently recognised as a national heritage building.
Deputy Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Joseph Salang, who visited the school in May, had said that the school building and other sites in Bukit Nanas would be preserved and protected by the Heritage Act.
"If there are parts of the building that need to be repaired, we will do the needful," he had told reporters after a ceremony proclaiming SMK St John a national heritage site.
The school is as famed for its distinctive Grecian-Spanish architecture with its red-and-white arches as it is for its academic excellence.
It has produced outstanding Malaysians such as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, cabinet ministers and corporate personalities.
It was chosen as one of the cluster schools of excellence by the Ministry of Education in 2007.
It was named after St John Baptist de La Salle.
Level Field says: Johannians please rally to support for what is supposed to be provided for, but is not!

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