Seek counselling, deputy minister tells teachers with emotional problems

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching at SJK (T) Permatang Tinggi in Bukit Mertajam today.

BUKIT MERTAJAM: Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching today urged teachers going through emotional stress at work to seek counselling rather than to take it out on their students, following news that a teacher had caned a student at a school in Johor for calling him “ah kua” or effeminate.

“Being an educator is not an easy task. In the ministry, we remind all educators and students that schools are a place to inculcate love and mutual respect for one another.

“This issue shows that our educators are facing trouble controlling their emotions. We are ready to provide counselling for teachers with emotional problems,” Teo said.

She said the national syllabus on sex education would help counter name-calling and discrimination against those who do not fall under certain gender types.

She added that the district education office in Johor is investigating the caning case, with assistance from a school representative and the student’s parent.

A police investigation is also underway, she said, with a full report on the matter to be released to the ministry later today.

Teo said the ministry has had clear guidelines on caning and corporal punishment since 2003. According to the guidelines, girls should be spared the cane.

She said only male students who commit an offence of “medium” or “high” level are subject to caning on the palm and on the buttocks with clothing on.

Teo said the 2003 circular also states that only a principal or a teacher nominated by the principal can carry out the caning. She said the caning should not take place in full view of other students in a class or an assembly.

According to the education ministry’s circular No 7/2003, there are 35 major offences, 10 medium offences and 27 light offences. Caning can be carried out on those who commit major and medium offences.

Some of the major offences listed are drug use, smoking, alcohol consumption and being rude to teachers, while medium offences include colouring hair, having skinhead or punk hairstyles, or leaving the school without permission.

Major offences are to be punished with a maximum of three strokes of the cane on the buttocks, while medium offences are to be punished with three strokes of the cane on the palm.

For light offences, warnings and counselling are given.

On a different note, Teo said the three-day closure of all schools in Pasir Gudang, Johor would be reviewed on Thursday.

Authorities have ordered all 475 educational institutions in the Pasir Gudang district to close following a chemical pollution scare.

Earlier, Teo announced that the ministry would give RM1 million towards the completion of a four-storey block of SJK (T) Permatang Tinggi, Bukit Mertajam.

The RM3.5 million block, construction of which began in 2015, was stalled due to a lack of funds. It had previously received RM2.5 million from the federal government and RM110,000 from the public through fund-raising activities.

The school has 859 students and 56 teachers, with only nine out of 20 classrooms in good shape.