KOTA KINABALU - Almost a dozen schools in Sabah are in atrocious conditions, with no walls, poor furniture and children suffering in the suffocating heat.
Things are so bad that pupils are fainting in the heat. One 11-year-old pupil from SK Simpangan near Kota Marudu has fainted several times in the past few weeks because of the heat under the makeshift classrooms.
"His mother told us that he never fainted at home so we wonder whether it is the conditions in the classroom," said a SK Simpangan teacher who requested anonymity.
One block of SK Simpangan was destroyed in a fire last May.
As a result, the Sabah Education Department had arranged for canopy tents where classes could be held as a temporary measure.
A few other students had also fainted, said the teacher, who felt it could be due to the heat under the canopy tents.
"Our conditions are not conducive for studying. It is very dusty here as well," she said adding that the school has 313 students.
The issue came into prominence after the plight of pupils in SK Penimbawan was highlighted in a viral tweet with the hashtag #SchoolWithNoWall last week.
In a tweet directed at Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa on Friday, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said: "Please investigate and take action to help if this is true. This should not have happened."
The schools are among 10 - with a total enrolment of more than 2,000 - that were destroyed by either fires or landslips in Sabah since last year.
Fires destroyed aging semi-wooden schools in SK Tampasak in Papar, SK Gadong in Beaufort, SK Penimbawan in Tuaran and SK Pekan Kiulu in Kiulu within three months in March last year affecting about 1,000 students.
Education Ministry Secretary-General Tan Sri Dr Madinah Mohamad said RM48mil has been allocated for the reconstruction and urgently-needed repairs of schools in Sabah.
Of the amount, she said RM25mil (S$94,000) would go towards the reconstruction of classroom blocks in 22 schools destroyed in fires, damaged by floods or landslips.