TEACHERS are held in high regard for good reasons. They are responsible for imparting not just formal education to our children but also act as their moral compass. Teachers are trusted to do the right thing by being role models who conduct themselves impeccably and are guided by the right values.
Those values should be obvious during a school event designed to foster national unity. Apparently not if a report in Malaysiakini is accurate.
A school in Kajang is under investigation by the Selangor Education Department following complaints from concerned parents that students were barred from wearing traditional costumes of other races.
The school had allegedly also told female Indian pupils they were not allowed to wear sarees. Indian students were also instructed to not wear the traditional holy thread on their wrists.
A number of pupils had defied this ridiculous and counter-productive directives but were rewarded with disciplinary action instead.
Pupils who dared defy this blatantly racist instruction had their names recorded in the so-called Sistem Sahsiah Diri Murid (pupils’ personal records). Parents have been very unhappy at this turn of events and flooded the school’s WhatsApp chat group but had yet to receive a formal explanation.
One would think that in a Merdeka Day event designed specifically to celebrate the nation’s multi-cultural heritage, the opposite instruction would have been communicated whereby students would be encouraged to don clothes from different cultures.
Instead, parents are once again faced with serious questions about the suitability of educators entrusted with guiding their children. Instead of promoting a message of harmony and celebrating diversity, it appears that over-zealous teachers have decided that any form of cross-cultural appreciation was counter-productive to the Independence Day celebration.
Alongside cases of non-Muslim students made to eat in toilets during Ramadhan to barely disguised racist tirades, Malaysians need to seriously ask what sort of values are being imparted in public schools. Is this where the seeds of racism are planted in young minds?
Teachers are held to a high benchmark because they are largely responsible for shaping the worldview of pupils. What sort of outlook will pupils of national schools have when multi-culturalism is frowned upon?
When aspects of their culture such as the wearing of the holy thread is deemed a disciplinary offence, will this create a sense of inclusiveness among the affected pupils or the feeling that they are being ostracised?
When will the Education Ministry take stern action against teachers who spread messages that are so openly against the muhibbah spirit? Instead of just a transfer to another school where they are free to do the same again, perhaps the threat of the sack and blacklisting should be mooted to make errant educators think carefully before issuing such questionable instructions.
According to an officer from the Deputy Education Minister’s office, the Selangor Education Department is conducting the probe and appropriate action will be revealed once the investigations are completed. – Sept 21, 2023
Main pic credit: The Malaysian Reserve