KOTA KINABALU – The St Francis Convent Secondary School (SFCSS) Building Committee updated alumni members on the building progress on 7 Nov 2015 at the GC Woolley Hall, Sabah State Museum, at the Franciscan Get-Together 2.
In her briefing, Chairperson of the SFCSS Fundraising Subcommittee Leena Toyoi said the proposed school has two 4-storey blocks with a central atrium. She reported that extensive foundation works were in progress with concretisation of pad footings and column stumps.
Toyoi further said that following the site blessing officiated by Archbishop John Wong in November 2014, piling works started from December until February this year.
“Construction commenced in September this year, and the school building is scheduled to be completed in September 2017 based on the contract,” Toyoi said.
In her report, chairperson of the St Francis Convent Schools Management Board Mary Gomez said the realisation of the secondary school building before 6 June 2018 is “to mark the 50th birthday of our Board Adviser Abp John Wong.” She expressed the hope to complete the project with the help of God and collaboration from each member.
As for funds, Gomez said, “Donations from ex-girls and well-wishers, however small the contribution, will be used to finance the construction, even if it is just RM1.” Both the Federal and State governments have contributed to the bulk of the funds in hand (RM4 million). The estimated cost of the project is RM12 million.
Fundraising projects undertaken by alumni members are ongoing. According to Toyoi, the Inland Revenue Board (LHDN) has approved the school project as eligible for income tax exemption. She said, “Official tax receipts will be issued for donations received from 15 March 2015 to 14 March 2018.”
In relation to that, Toyoi said the needed funds will be raised by way of donations and sponsorships. Those who sponsor classrooms (minimum sun is RM50,000) will have naming rights to the respective rooms.
“Our strategy also applies to the science laboratories (minimum RM88,000) and workshops or special rooms (minimum RM80,000). Donations of RM3,000 and above will be recognised as generous contributors on the Wall of Recognition,” she said.
In his address, Abp Wong informed those present that members of the management board and building committee were ex-girls “handpicked” by him to serve their alma mater last year. He also prayed that they will be able to accomplish their mission by June 2018.
The occasion saw the prelate launching the official website of the Alumni of St Francis Convent Schools headed by Datuk Aminah Ambrose, with Toh Puan Rahimah Stephens as its patron.
It also saw the presentation of five cheques totalling RM168,000 to Abp Wong, witnessed by Gomez and Toyoi, by Datuk Aminah Ambrose (Class 1975), Monica Kong (Class 1965), Datin Anna Au (Class 1979), Leena Toyoi (Class 1979), and Doreen Jominol (Class 1972). The presenters shared their stories on how they raised the funds.
Of note of interest was the display of laminated enlarged write-ups on several prominent ex-girls by Daily Express Special Writer Mary Chin on the walls of the hall.
Earlier in August this year, Abp Wong led a delegation to pay a courtesy call on the Minister of Special Tasks, Datuk Teo Chee Kang, who is also the chairman of the State Committee on Mission and Chinese Schools and Non-Islamic Organisations. He has assisted the school in securing some funds from the Sabah State Government.
St Francis Convent School, first school for girls in Sabah, was built in 1922. Currently it is located along Jalan Kebajikan (former Harrington Road) with a population of 850 students. However, the present site is too cramped for a bulging population so it necessitates a relocation to the site behind the primary school in Bukit Padang. The revised development plan was approved in June 2014 and the new building plans were approved in August 2014. The proposed school has two 4-storey blocks with a central atrium: one block comprising 22 classrooms (enough for a single session) and living skills workshops; the other block consisting of science laboratories, administrative offices, staffroom, library, and special rooms.