NO DOUBT the outrage of parents over the recent discriminatory staging of a ‘sponsored’ two-day/one-night SPM workshop in a hotel limited to Muslim pupils in the guise it involved only the agama subject (Pendidikan Islam) is also felt by social activist-cum-lawyer Siti Kasim.
Not only that the transparency was absent, the event had also happened under the nose of the SMK Infant Jesus Convent school principal “turned out to be a comprehensive workshop covering chemistry, additional mathematics, etc”, clamed parent Anne Louis (@sangria200) in a tweet which sparked nationwide furore.
“Hello @FadhlinaSiddiq, what’s the point of you being the EDUCATION MINISTER if you leave it to the state (Education Department to sort the matter out)?” lambasted Siti Kasim in her tweet on the matter.
“Clearly, this is not right! The non-Malays deserve the same treatment as the Malays BECAUSE THEY’RE MALAYSIANS TOO! STOP THIS NONSENSE!!”
In her WhatsApp response to parents via the Parents Teachers Association (PIBG) chat group which was later deleted, the principal had justified the school’s action by stressing that Infant Jesus Convent is a High Performance School in which the Johor Bahru District Education Office and the Johor State Education Department harbour high hopes for it to excel.
“The performance of Malay pupils is very worrying. There are 40 pupils who failed (in their trial exam) and will not obtain their SPM certificates if no efforts are taken to assist them,” she clarified, noting that a meet-the-parent session was held on Jan 15 as an intervention measure (of which parents of only 16 out of the 40 pupils turned out).
The principal further denied any discriminatory practices except that the school “does not want the performance of Malay pupils to become a reason for the downfall of the school in SPM 2022”.
In response to the thread by Anne Louis (@sangria200), another parent by the name of SK (@Smitach2) questioned why she was not invited for the meeting called by the school (on Jan 15) given her daughter failed her additional mathematics and chemistry during the trial examination.
“Interesting then that 100% attended by Malay students only and workshop kept as a secret …. Convent, what an absolute shame,” she tweeted.
Another parent by the name of Norman Fernandez went on to claim that it was believed that the Malay students were made “to swear not to reveal this special session to their non-Malay friends”.
“All this would not have been known had some of the students not put photographs from the session on Instagram,” revealed Fernandez.
In response to the controversy, the Education Ministry has denied that an overnight SPM workshop in Johor recently was discriminatory after it was alleged that only Muslim students were invited to take part.
Instead, the ministry said the workshop held at a hotel in Johor Bahru had been split into two separate sessions to avoid disturbing SPM candidates from the SMK Infant Jesus Convent who were celebrating the Chinese New Year.
It said the workshop was an initiative by the Johor Bahru District Education Office (PPD) and was conducted in collaboration between the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA), Parent Support Group (KSIB) and Parent, Community and Private Involvement (PIBKS).
“On Jan 19 and 20, the SPM Preparation Workshop for candidates was first held at Hotel Suasana, Johor Bahru involving 30 candidates who failed in Malay and History subjects, as well as Galus (failed with potential to pass) candidates in several other subjects,” the Education Ministry noted in a statement.
It, however, did not mention the ethnicity or religion of the pupils who took part in the workshop on Jan 19 and 20, nor did it confirm or deny that this batch of students was all Muslims. – Jan 25, 2023