PETALING JAYA: The Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) has called for action to be taken against the teacher who accused a student of stealing her mobile phone, leading to the Form Two girl attempting to take her own life.
PAGE chairperson Noor Azimah Rahim said it was not sufficient to merely transfer the teacher.
“Merely transferring the teacher will not put the problem to rest.
“Teachers should not take the law into their own hands no matter how annoyed they may be with a student.
“Teachers have to be continually reminded of their code of ethics. There are SOPs (standard operating procedures) in place which should be followed,” she told FMT.
She said to some students, teachers were next to God and almost idolised.
“They will do anything for their teachers, especially the favourite ones. So when a teacher takes extreme measures to punish a timid teenager, it may break the heart of the student.
“The shame that might have resulted, especially the thought of the incident becoming public knowledge or witnessed by friends, could have been so deep that she (the student) may take her own life,” she said.
Azimah was commenting on the case of M Vasanthapiriya, 13, of SMK Methodist in Nibong Tebal, Penang, who had attempted to take her life at home after her pleas of innocence were not heeded by the teacher.
Vasanthapiriya is now brain dead in hospital.
The Penang Education Department was reported as saying that the teacher had been transferred pending an investigation.
State Education Department deputy director Mohd Jamil Mohamed said the teacher involved would carry out desk duties at the South Seberang Perai district education office (PPD) while the internal probe was conducted.
Police are also investigating the case based on a police report lodged by Vasanthapiriya’s uncle.
It should not have happened
Sharmila Sekaran, executive director of Voice of Children, has urged police to conduct an in-depth probe.
“This is something that should not have happened. At 13, Vasanthapiriya had her whole life ahead of her. It is so tragic for this to happen.”
Sharmila who is a lawyer also urged Vasanthapiriya’s parents to find out the details of the incident that led to their daughter’s suicide attempt.
She said teachers should know how to handle students.
“There are right ways and wrong ways of handling things. The right way is to bring about a positive change in the mindset of a child and the wrong way is to create fear.
“Teenagers are very sensitive when they have to handle embarrassing situations. Perhaps Vasanthapiriya was traumatised. Embarrassed that she would be ridiculed in school by her schoolmates and others.”
However, she said the Malaysian schooling system was still very much based on creating fear among students.
“It is not about knowledge but learning through fear.
“As long as they remember the fear, they will not do it. But when they forget about the fear, it might relapse.”
Sharmila said students need a teacher that they can talk to. “Every child must have access to a person they can talk to. A form teacher may not be the right person.”
She said over the years, there had been an increase in police reports made by parents against teachers and this showed there was a breakdown of trust between parents and the school.
“Of course, there are parents who over-react to situations but there have been cases of abuse when a child is a slow learner or if the child comes from a dysfunctional family.”