Education of Orang Asli kids being neglected

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PETALING JAYA: Education for Orang Asli children is being neglected with unmotivated teachers being sent to teach them, Center for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) Coordinator Colin Nicholas said.

On top of this, he told FMT that teachers stationed in rural areas were often under pressure to “show good results”.

“We have come across many cases where schools are under immense pressure to maintain the UPSR pass rate.

“They will do anything to get the weaker students out so that these children won’t sit for exams and bring down the overall results.”

Yesterday, FMT reported that teachers in a rural town in Kelantan were allegedly falsifying medical reports of Orang Asli children from a school, labelling them as intellectually disabled, to avoid being penalised for falling grades in the school.

Colin recalled his experiences with COAC, revealing there are many instances far worse than falsified medical reports.

For one, he noted the vast physical abuse Orang Asli students underwent which went unreported or unaddressed.

“Some of the punishments are terrible. It is something you will not find in normal schools.”

He recalled a case he encountered in Kelantan last month where a student was forced to eat broken glass pieces after unintentionally breaking the window glass panel in a school.

“The teacher got very angry and made her eat the glass. Of course, she didn’t swallow it, but there were serious cuts and swells everywhere in her mouth.”

Colin said COAC had brought this matter up to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam), but lamented that “it goes unreported as if it’s normal”.

Underperforming and unqualified teachers must not be stationed in schools in rural areas, he stressed.

“A lot has to be done with the selection process of teachers in rural areas. It seems like the lousier teachers are sent to these schools and this shouldn’t be the case.

“By right, the more experienced and dedicated teachers should be sent to the Orang Asli schools to bring up the educational level of these children.

“If the teachers are being sent there as a sort of punishment, they are really going to hate going to the school.

“In the end, they will pass down that anger and attitude when it comes to teaching these children.”

Unmotivated teachers shouldn’t be allowed to deal with children, Colin said.

“Such teachers don’t have the mental make-up to become teachers. The authorities must identify such teachers and send them somewhere else.”

He recalled another incident in Kelantan last year which involved the disappearance of seven students in SK Tohoi. After 50 days, five students were found dead and the other two was found alive but emaciated.

According to reports, the seven had run away from the school as they were afraid of being punished for swimming at a nearby river without permission.

“And what about the poor little girl who was tied up and beaten by teachers in Kelantan after being accused of stealing money?

“No action was taken at all by the authorities against those involved.”

The pledge by the education ministry to set up a special committee to look into matters pertaining to Orang Asli children seems to have fallen on deaf ears, he said.

Colin called for a complete revamp of the system of delivering education to Orang Asli children.

“We need a full royal commission of inquiry or a Suhakam commission into the education of Orang Asli children.”