EDUCATION Minister Fadhlina Sidek recently announced that pupils will no longer be required to wear school uniform throughout the week starting from the 2024-2025 academic year which begins in March.
They are only required to wear school uniform for two days of the week, sports attire for another two days and-curriculum attire for the remaining day.
One can’t help but draw comparisons between the Nibong Tebal MP’s recent announcement with that of her predecessor Maszlee Malik who gained infamy for announcing that pupils were allowed to don black shoes to school instead of just white ones.
To this day, the “black shoe” label sticks with Maszlee, eclipsing some of his more innovative achievements.
Fadhliha should have taken a leaf from the public relations disaster made by her fellow PKR leader Maszlee with regard to school uniforms worn by students.
Was the school uniform announcement so ground-breaking that it warranted a ministerial statement? Aren’t there more pressing issues in the Education Ministry (MOE) that required her attention?
One example is the unresolved Dual Language Programme (DLP). Shouldn’t she allocate more resources to tackling this issue by addressing the needs of parents whose kids are potentially left out of DLP?
Since taking over, has she announced MOE’s plans to address problems like the deteriorating command of English among students or how to prepare the future generations to ride technological waves like Artificial Intelligence and Industrial Revolution 4.0 (IR4.0)?
Alas, just as Maszlee will go down in history as the “black shoe” Education Minister, Fadhlina has been associated with successive controversies since taking over in 2022.
Perhaps her biggest mis-step so far was her defective directive to schools to organise the Palestinian Solidarity Week which saw the glorification of violence in some schools.
In November last year, Fadhlina had to apologise in the Dewan Rakyat after pupils in a Tamil school in Penang were not allowed to perform a song on the Tamil community and the Hindus.
Earlier, she was also criticised after a school in Johor purportedly excluded non-Muslims from attending an SPM workshop.
The list of problems and controversies in the MOE is endless. To be fair, Fadhlina inherited an institution that came with a lot of baggage.
But precisely due to the sheer amount of challenges in the MOE, then it is only right for Fadhlina to focus on righting the wrongs and unravelling the knots. Above are only the tip of the iceberg of issues that warranted her immediate attention.
Certainly, what uniforms pupils are allowed to wear for the week should not be on her priority list. Unless she gets her priority right, just like “black shoe” Maszlee, Fadhlina may end up with a permanent “black eye” as far as public perception goes. – Jan 21, 2024