• Christina Chin, Rebecca Rajendram, The Star

Parents and teachers have mixed feelings over ‘hotspot’ schools list

PETALING JAYA: Parents should not be alarmed if their child’s school is on the leaked list of “hotspots”, said Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim.

“The criteria for hotspot schools are very tight and also precautionary,” she said, adding that it was good for the police to monitor these schools before any potential problem “becomes too large to contain and control.”

The principal of one school said he had no idea how it got classified as a hotspot because discipline was under control.

“It might be a video clip of bullying that was circulated last year, but our students were not the bullies. One girl in the video, who was in our school uniform, was the victim,” he said.

“I am not sure if these incidents contributed.”

A teacher from another school praised the ministry’s attempt to clamp down on bullying and drug abuse cases, which were on the rise.

“At least something is being done about these problems,” she said.

However, she expressed disappointment that the ministry had not done enough research to identify the true “hotspot schools”.

“We do not have serious disciplinary problems. We only have problems like not doing homework, untidy hair, and other minor issues,” she said.

She added that the ministry should have notified the schools about the list first.

Another teacher also believed the ministry’s move was a good one because it had acted to handle serious discipline problems.

However, the teacher said the ministry needed to figure out how to solve those problems quickly and efficiently, after identifying the schools.

Another teacher was shocked to hear of the list, but felt “comforted” after going through it.

“I saw a number of other good schools there, so it wasn’t as serious as I thought. However, I know that my school is not a problematic one,” said the teacher, who has been at the school for 15 years.

However, she said labelling schools in this way would deter parents from sending their children to those on the list: “Some of them are good schools.”

She said the ministry should go on the ground to seek more information if it wanted to handle drug abuse and bullying among students.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said it was unfair to have such a list in the first place, as it put those schools in a bad light.

He said the ministry must look at the problem holistically.

He expressed surprise that some schools were included because they were known to be good schools with model students and staff.

He also said some are in the middle of towns or surrounded by good communities, and it was puzzling why they were chosen.

Tan also said that teachers should receive better training to handle more serious matters such as bullying, drugs and gangsterism.

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said the ministry made a good move and advised schools on the list to not take offence.

“Being identified does not mean the school gets a black mark, it just means that the ministry is trying to help with age-old problems of gangsterism, bullying and drug abuse,” he said.

Siva Subramaniam, a former NUTP secretary-general, urged parents to stop putting the blame on schools and step up to help them tackle serious issues instead.

He also called for more power to be given to discipline teachers.

“Teachers take action on their students because they care about them. They want them to learn from their mistakes and become disciplined students,” he said, pointing out that parents tend to be overprotective of their children and constantly blame teachers for punishing them.

A student said she could not believe her school was identified as a hotspot with discipline problems.

“I can’t really think of any serious cases that caused the school to be on the list, other than (some students) disrespecting teachers and prefects,” said the 17-year-old from Penang.

She added that police had visited the school before but only to launch their Bulan Disiplin programme.

The Star

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