Monitor all schools for child abuse, say activists

Noor-Azimah-syed-azmiPETALING JAYA: Two activists have called on the government to start monitoring every educational institution for abuse cases.

Cases of violence against students are not limited to religious schools, said Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim and social activist Syed Azmi Alhabshi in a comment on the alleged beating of a pupil in a religious school in Johor. The boy’s legs were infected and have had to be amputated.

“We should also look at every residential school, regardless of whether it is religious or not, for similar abuse cases,” Azimah said.

The education ministry should advise state governments on the setting up of a better monitoring system, she added.

Referring to a recent budget allocation for religious schools, she said it should help these schools address the financial problems that were preventing them from properly managing their staffing issues.

In the Johor incident, the student allegedly sustained his injuries from a severe beating by a warden.

“Sometimes, these schools don’t have enough money,” Azimah said. “So, they have to hire whoever comes knocking on their doors.”

The government recently approved an allocation of RM80 million to 819 registered pondok schools, Sekolah Menengah Agama Rakyat and tahfiz institutions.

Syed Azmi said he was concerned that the Johor incident would result in criticism of all religious schools.

“The fault of one man should not be used to penalise every religious school because this matter affects every kind of school,” he said.

“It is about the safety of children and this incident, unfortunately, happened in a religious school.”

He also said the public should be told which government agency was monitoring the schools to curb child abuse in any form.

“We should be clear about who does the monitoring so that we can also stop students from carrying out donation drives or selling products from house to house to finance school activities,” he said.

He also lamented that religious figures had yet to come together to discuss the issue of child abuse in religious schools.

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