Keep Israel-Palestine conflict out of Sabah and Sarawak schools

Letter to editor

THE Sarawak Association for Peoples Aspiration (SAPA) urges the Sabah and Sarawak state governments to reject the Federal directive to use schools and school students to promote a political agenda on the issue of the Israeli-Hamas conflict in Gaza.

There is little doubt that this is an important global issue indeed – one that is likely to shape our times. While we might stand in solidarity with all victims of conflict, our schools are not the place for spreading this kind of partisan messaging and to hate another person.

Through its Palestine Solidarity Week circular dated Oct 21, the Department of Education is actually bringing elements of politics into the classroom – something that can cause conflict and tension among students and teachers of different faiths.

After all, the school is not a place for school children to be exposed to sentiments of hatred against people of other races and religions. We must assert independent thought and humanitarian values – now and forever.

Such requirement is even more pressing in the Borneo states given their rich mix of ethnicities. If this circular is implemented, it could encourage feelings of division and polarisation instead of encouraging pupils to consider conflict resolution and social unity.

Our schools should focus on executing educational curriculum and developing critical thought instead. They certainly should not be subject to political interference.

I am sure many parents have been disturbed by the video clip of school students entering the classroom and stomping their feet on the flag of a foreign country while cursing and insulting the foreign country.

I question the true intentions of politicians in using schools and impressionable school-age pupils to impose their views on international political issues. It is perhaps high time for Borneo states to demand greater educational autonomy.

Sabahans and Sarawakians who have seen their home states written out of the educational narrative for decades do not longer wish to kowtow to the whims and fancies of the Federal government as per the Department of Education circular which is not reflective of ensuring good quality education for our children. – Oct 26, 2023


Peter John Jaban is the Sarawak Association for Peoples Aspiration (SAPA) publicity and information chief. Elsewhere, he is also the deputy president of Global Human Rights Federation (GHRF).

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: Malay Mail

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