Too much homework, not enough rest time among gripes raised at Suhakam session with kids

PETALING JAYA: Too much homework, not enough rest time and heavy schoolbags were only some of the complaints raised by children during a special consultation organised by Suhakam’s Office of the Children’s Commissioner (OCC) and the Social Welfare Department last month.

The 35 children aged eight to 17 who attended the consultation on Feb 21 and 22 also said they were concerned about the number of suicides among primary and secondary school students which they attributed to stress caused by a variety of issues.

These include high parental expectations, bullying, teachers “picking on them”, and ineffective counselling by incapable counsellors.

A statement released by OCC today said the children raised concerns over the right to rest and leisure.

“They feel that their school hours are too packed,” it added. “They are given too much homework. If homework is not completed, they must stand outside class or on their chairs, or are embarrassed in class.”

It said they also need rest time outside of recess, adding that the children suggested a 20-minute “nap” every day during school hours.

On the matter of bullying, it said the children requested that urgent action be taken as their studies are affected.

“If bullies are children, they must be given counselling and proper assistance to realise that their actions are wrong.

“If bullies are teachers, they must be removed from teaching.”

The children also raised concerns over the lack of lifts and wheelchair lanes for disabled students, adding that those with special needs would like to use e-books instead of conventional textbooks.

“Schoolbags are too heavy and bad for children’s health,” it added. “The placement of lockers in schools has not been fully implemented.”

Privacy issues were raised as well, with the children saying adults should never share a child’s personal information or picture without their consent.

On the right to education, they said there should be no discrimination against those who wished to attend school and higher education institutions.

Ten of the children who attended the consultation were from the Children Representative Council, four of them had special needs and two were tahfiz students.

There was also an Orang Asli student, a refugee student and an environmental advocate.