(File pic) Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy said based on state Education Department’s records, the population of students in vernacular schools in the state involving the various races stood at 3,552 students which included Chinese and Indian pupils. (NSTP/DANIAL SAAD)

GEORGE TOWN: The Penang government is disagreeable with views that vernacular schools amount to a hindrance, when it comes to unity among Malaysians.

Deputy Chief Minister II Dr P. Ramasamy said based on state Education Department’s records, the population of students in vernacular schools in the state involving the various races stood at 3,552 students which included Chinese and Indian pupils.

“This shows that vernacular schools is a platform for unity building among the diverse races in the state and the country.

“The state government is always concerned and provides assistance to all schools, including vernacular schools, under our annual education assistance programme,” he told the state legislative assembly, here, today.

He said this in reply to a question from M. Satees (PH - Bagan Dalam), who wanted to know the state’s stance on the matter.

Ramasamy who is also in charge of the education portfolio, said this year alone, the state government gave RM8.4 million to missionary, Chinese and private schools, apart from RM2 million to Tamil schools.

He said the state government also emphasised on Islamic studies through a RM2.5 million allocation to Sekolah Agama Rakyat (SAR).

“Beginning this year too, some 170 Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) also received RM3 million from the state government for repair and maintenance of the schools’ infrastructure, " he said, expressing the state government's hope that schools in Penang would be able to realise the intention to create a skilled work force.