Segregation of students by religion makes Sabah parents see red

KOTA KINABALU: Sabahans are furious over the decision of a secondary school principal to segregate Form One students to different classes based on their religion.

An online petition against the school was launched two days ago and has collected more than 5,500 signatures.

Most of these signatories regretted that such an incident was happening in Sabah, which prides itself for its racial and religious tolerance.

According to the petition initiator, the segregation exercise started in January with four classes reserved for non-Muslim students and two more for Muslim students.

This arrangement is supposed to be in place for the next three years.

The school principal was recorded in a video explaining the reasons for the new system, which among others included the students’ safety, lack of classrooms for Islamic Education classes and complaints from students confused over where their classes were being held.

Other students in Form Two to Form Five are in the usual class system.

Two classes are usually combined during Moral Education and Islamic Education periods.

Muslim students will move to the library or surau for the Islamic Education class while the non-Muslim students congregate in one classroom.

The school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) claimed they had informed the principal of their objections but these were dismissed.

The parent of a Form One student at the school told FMT that other parents were concerned with such a segregation system because they believed this will bring more harm than good to the students.

“We in Sabah have always been known for our tolerance. If this system is imposed on our children, imagine how this could affect their relationship with people of other religions in future,” said the parent.

When contacted, Sabah Education Department director Mistirine Radin said the department is still investigating the matter.