Malaysian headmistress worries about special needs students after school struck by lightning

JOHOR BARU - The headmistress of a school that was struck by lightning during a thunderstorm is worried about her special needs students.

"They cannot just sit on the floor, but need special mats. I hope we will be able to repair the damaged parts of the school soon," said a tearful Ramlah Othman.

Johor state executive councillor Md Jais Sarday, who visited the affected school, SK Kangkar Tebrau, said the fire had displaced the students with special education needs, pre-schoolers, Year 1 and Year 4 students.

On Monday, the top floor of the school caught fire after being struck by lightning.

The fire destroyed the top floor of the three-storey block. The affected students have been moved to the other three blocks at the school.

Md Jais said the state government would assist the school with fans and electrical wiring works.

"There is a block next to the affected building which was donated by the school's Parent-Teacher Asso­ciation. Some of the affected students will occupy the classrooms here for the time being," he said.

"However, there is an electrical wiring problem which resulted in the block not having power."

He added that the swift assistance given to the school would ensure the 180 students displaced by the fire continue with their studies in relative comfort until the damaged block is repaired.

Md Jais said the fire also destroyed at least two computer labs containing 43 computers and laptops. He estimated the cost of repair, rewiring and replacing equipment to cost about RM1mil (S$386,000).

He hoped the Education Ministry would allocate the necessary funds to repair the affected part at the school, which has been around since 1938.

Md Jais also said all schools in Johor would be inspected to ensure they were properly protected against lightning strikes.

"Some of the old school blocks have rubber insulations on the roofs and this can easily catch fire when hit by lightning," he said.

There are 1,176 schools in Johor.