28 February, 2005
Kota Marudu: Some 30 percent of the 264 pupils at SK Gana, 38
kilometres from here, have been having lice in their hair over the last
few years, and there is nothing much the school authorities could do to
rectify the situation.
Teacher Jansah Labutan, acting as a spokesman in the absence of
headmaster Junick Umboh, said almost all the Year One and Two pupils had
lice in their hair due to lack of awareness on the importance of personal
Some of the pupils in the other classes were also infected, probably
from their own home environment, he added. Despite efforts by the teaching
staff to overcome the problem, he claimed that the school's parent-teacher
association did not seem to bother to cooperate.
He noted that three pupils had their heads shaved bald last year to rid
themselves of the lice, but the problem and persisted this year.
According to Jansah, 80 per cent of the parents and guardians aged 31
years and above are illiterate, and some had not bothered to bathe for up
three days, the least.
Abject poverty was the main contributing factor to the problem, and the
people in the area could not afford the "luxury" of using soap and
shampoo, apart from salt and other food seasoning, as well as salt fish.
Naturally, they would turn to the dukun or bomoh (traditional medicine
men) who ordered them not to bathe for at least seven days while under
Despite concerned efforts by the school with the cooperation of the
government clinic in the area to eliminate the lice, the problem still
The situation is further aggravated with the lack of electricity supply
when its two power generators broke down last month.
The school's 13 teachers are forced to put up temporary accommodation
at a kongsi, while their pupils had to walk for long distance to their
homes due to absence of a hostel.
A brief visit to the community kindergarten set up by Paccos Trust
showed teachers Saimon Kutin Ayanin Masiah admitting that several of the
pre-schoolers also have lice in their hair, but not as much as those in
the primary school.
Kampung Gana was set up by the Government in 1999 under a resettlement
scheme, involving 10 kampungs each with it own village headman and JKKK
The area has a total population of 3,500 people from 450 families, who
have been subjected to moderate weather during the day and extreme cold at
It would need a four-wheel drive vehicle to reach Kampung Gana through
a gravel track set up by a logging company.
However, the residents claimed that the road leading to the kampungs,
gravity water pipes, electricity and public facilities were in dire need