Stunts like Umno-themed play eroding confidence in national schools
The apparent attempts to turn schools into "political hotbeds" are eroding confidence in national schools, says the Parent Action Group for Education (Page).
Page said this in reference to an Umno-themed decoration contest and play at SK Putrajaya Presint 14 (1) which saw students chanting "Hidup Umno" (Long live Umno) and waving the party flags.
"It is regrettable that innocent school children are made pawns in political games that adults play.
"It now further confirms that all the effort that the education ministry is undertaking to make national schools the first choice of parents, is rapidly eroding.
"Such schools can now be perceived as political hotbeds," it said in a statement today.
The event was attended by Federal Territories Minister Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor, who is also Putrajaya MP and Umno secretary-general.
The school's headmaster Mohd Amin Hamzah had defended the programme, insisting that it was not political and the school was only carrying out an activity organised by the Education Ministry.
Page said in light of Mohd Amin's statement, the Education Ministry must take responsibility.
It added that the Education Ministry cannot afford to see falling enrolment into national schools.
"This event appears to be a blatant and desperate attempt by Umno to guise a political ploy behind a school competition.
There are other avenues to promote politics and this is definitely not one of them," it said.
It stressed that educationists are supposed to nurture and guide school children as well as protect them from "political opportunists".
"Parents of the school should lodge a formal complaint.
"We hope this will be a lesson learnt by the Education Ministry not to allow politicians to hijack school events," it said.
Meanwhile, PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil noted Tengku Adnan, during the event, also implored teachers to join Umno, describing it as "disturbing and desperate".
"Whether Tengku Adnan said it in jest or with seriousness, and whether schools are allowed to fly political party flags or host party-related activities under the guise of ministry instructions, are questions that the Education Ministry must clarify.
"There cannot be two sets of rules: one for the ruling party and one for the opposition," he said.
Fahmi pointed out that many Pakatan Harapan MPs, including Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, have been consistently denied entry into schools for non-party-related functions.
"Can the minister explain why the double standard exists?" he said.