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Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said as of March 31, 2016, there were 2,058 national schools , 578 Chinese vernacular schools, and 360 Tamil vernacular schools that have low enrolment (150 or fewer students). Pix by Yazit Razali

KUALA LUMPUR: The government will not close down under-enrolled schools or Sekolah Kurang Murid (SKM) despite spending RM2 billion annually for their operations.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid said as of March 31, 2016, there were 2,058 national schools, 578 Chinese vernacular schools, and 360 Tamil vernacular schools that have low enrolment (150 or fewer students).

"Based on an operational cost analysis, these schools need RM67,130.65 per student every year compared to RM5,321.84 annually per student in other schools," he told the Dewan Rakyat today.

Mahdzir who is also Padang Terap member of Parliament was replying a question from Datuk Abdul Rahman Mohamad (BN-Lipis) who asked about the ministry's long and short term measures in handling SKM schools to avoid wastage in government expenditure.

He said the ministry is currently implementing a roadmap for SKM which included re-grading the schools, combined classrooms, 'remove class' teachers placements and combined class teachers.

"For long term measures, if an area (of less than 5km in radius) has more than two or three vernacular schools (of the same stream), they will be merged. Otherwise, they will remain according to needs.

"The ministry's policy (on the matter) is clear whereby under-enrolled schools will not be closed down until approval from parents and the community is obtained," he emphasised.

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