PETALING JAYA: Schools used to be a safe haven where one sends one’s child to receive an education to prepare him or her for a better future.
Now, however, school children might have shoes thrown at them, be forced to wear bells around their neck or eat grass, get kicked, punched and stepped on.
One such incident was on July 10, when a SK Port Dickson teacher, Abdul Rahim Jaafar, reportedly threw his shoe at eight-year-old M Sharmini for not paying attention during her moral studies class. Sharmini received three stitches for her injury.
Psychologist Nanthini Ramalo told theantdaily that it was high time the Education Ministry conducted psychological assessments on all its teachers.
“We keep on hearing of such issues. It is time the ministry did this,” she said.
On Abdul Rahim, she said he had to be assessed to see if he was psychologically stable and if he was indeed fit to teach.
“He has to be put through counselling to see if he has anger management issues and if he is actually fit to be a teacher,” she added.
Nanthini said incidents like this would surely be a traumatic experience for the child.
“Teachers should be role models. Having teachers of this kind will instil hatred in students towards their teachers and schools. It will also make them lose their respect towards their education providers.
“When a teacher wants to punish a child, the child should know why he or she is being punished and it should not be by this kind of punishment or act. There are other ways of bringing the child on to the right path,” she said.
In Sharmini’s case, Abdul Rahim allegedly continued to teach although she was bleeding profusely after being hit by his shoe.
Sharmini’s father, K Muthu, has lodged a police report against him.
Abdul Rahim has since been issued a show-cause letter and transferred to SK Linggi, with the possibility of further action against him soon.
However, the transfer of Abdul Rahim to another school has raised more questions.
Aren’t there students in SK Linggi too and what if he decides to throw his shoe at another “misbehaving” student there?”
Malaysian Community Development Organisation (MCEO) president Jeevithan P Ganasan said the punishment did not suit the crime in this case.
“What message is the Education Ministry sending out? The teacher should not be allowed to continue teaching? The Education Ministry is such a disappointment,” said Jeevithan.
Puchong MP Gobind Singh has also called upon the Attorney-General to ensure action is taken if the allegations against Abdul Rahim were proven to be true.
Something should be done fast to prevent such incidents from happening again, especially looking at the number of recent incidents involving teachers.
In October 2013, former parliamentarian Tan Tee Beng’s 11-year-old nephew, Tan Xin Ren, was reportedly slapped so hard by his teacher that it damaged his eardrum just because he talked in class and put away his books before the lesson ended.
The same month also saw 11-year old K Pavitran allegedly being hit by his teacher with her shoe for leaving his notebook behind at home.
Last January, failing to complete their homework resulted in two Year Four students being forced to wear bells around their necks and made to pull grass from the field while being called cows in front of their class.
Last February, a teacher reportedly hurt several students, with one boy kicked in the face resulting in a bleeding chin, and a girl was punched five times in the face, breaking her glasses.
The teacher concerned had apparently been involved in an almost similar incident on Jan 22 which had been amicably resolved.
In this case, however, the teacher was temporarily placed at the Manjung District Education Office while awaiting the outcome of the investigations.
Last April, a Year Five student reportedly vomited and fainted after a teacher, who is suspected to be mentally unstable, kicked and stepped on his head.
All these incidents, just over the space of a few months, should serve as a clarion call to the Education Ministry to ensure those in the teaching faculty have good mental health.
After all, aren’t these the educators who are shaping the future generations of this country?