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School CP - June 2000
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 23 June 2000
Bringing back the cane
By Chok Suat Ling
KUALA LUMPUR, Thurs. - The Education Ministry is considering giving all teachers the power to cane students who misbehave under a move to tighten discipline in schools.
This follows a spate of incidents involving student misbehavior, including incidents of arson in schools.
Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad said he was looking into the possibility of empowering teachers with the disciplinary powers of school heads.
At present, the power to cane students is with the school head. Discipline teachers can also cane students provided they get the written consent of the school head.
This is provided for in the Education Regulations (School Discipline). The regulations also forbid the caning of girls.
"Right now, we are giving the power to only one or two teachers but if (it is) extended beyond that, we will have more people tackling disciplinary problems.
"That is why we are considering the implementation of this enabling clause for all teachers," Musa told reporters after launching the Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka's 44th anniversary celebration today.
The proposal to give all teachers the power to discipline students was made by the Federation of West Malaysia Malay Teachers.
The most recent case concerning student indiscipline was the suspected arson at Sekolah Rendah Kebangsaan Rawang. Police have questioned several pupils of the school.
In the Monday incident, fire partly damaged a Standard Six classroom, more than 50 textbooks, the ceiling and part of the wall and notice board.
In a separate case earlier, three schoolboys pleaded guilty at a magistrate's court in Johor to setting fire to their former discipline teacher's house.
The three Sekolah Menengah Tun Habab students -- aged between 16 and 17 -- were jointly charged with intentionally setting fire to the rear door of the teacher's house in Jalan Tan Hang Seng in Kota Besar, Kota Tinggi, on May 21.
On whether teachers might have a problem disciplining students for fear of being sued by parents, Musa said teachers were professionals and had to face the risk.
"If doctors did not want to treat patients for fear of being sued for negligence, then nobody will be willing to do anything."
It was earlier proposed that headmasters, principals and discipline teachers be given auxiliary police powers but it never got off the ground as the ministry felt their existing powers were sufficient to help combat student indiscipline.
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 24 June 2000
Cane the cains among students
HOOLIGANS. Gangsters. Arsonists. What will be the next word to describe the indisciplined actions of students? Gunmen? Do we have to hear that a student has blithely shot dead his classmate or his teacher on the evening TV news? Hardly a day passes without a report on student indiscipline.
To address that problem, Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad is considering giving the cane to teachers. The deputy secretary-general of the National Union of Teaching Profession says that poses a risk to teachers. In Abdul Karim Abdul Majid's view, the teachers would be victims of retaliation if they were to use the cane.
We say the cane is the answer. But it should be wielded by both parents and teachers if our young are to be nurtured into disciplined students and law-abiding citizens. What has changed? Time was when children respected, loved as well as feared their parents, especially the dominant father. They transferred and accorded the same emotions to their teachers when they went to school. Teachers then did not carry canes.
Their approaching footsteps were enough to silence rumbustious pupils in a classroom. The fear of receiving a tight slap was enough to rid any seed of misdemeanour in their mind. Thirty, 40 years ago even students who grew up in red-light areas of our towns thought twice before confronting the teacher eye-ball to eye-ball.
What has changed over time? Times have. Parental attitudes surely have. In the name of love and caring, we are guilty of over-indulgence. We desire to accord the best of everything to our children. But we do not instil the best of moral values. Like respect for elders and obeying rules.
True, we bring up children to be independent. In our pursuit of building careers or seeking livelihoods we invariably are not present to discipline our children for abusing their independence. Thus, many of our young grow up with the notion that the world is at their feet.
And when they go to school the over-indulged children take selfish notions to classrooms. To many, the school is not a sacred institution. Teachers are not fountains of knowledge. The classroom is just another playground.
True, they have to take public examinations. Tuitions assure that eventually. School rules are disregarded. If pulled up by the disciplinary teacher, the students retaliate. A few have even conjured Molotov cocktails, availing themselves of rudimentary chemistry knowledge.
Who or what is to be blamed for such wayward behaviour among some of our students? Some say it is the environment. We agree that it is nurture, rather than nature that builds character. But we also say nurturing begins at home. William Wordsworth wrote that the son is the father of the man. If that is true, it is equally true that the father makes the son into a man. He cannot run away from the God-entrusted responsibility.
He must use the cane to discipline. Otherwise, the biblical Cain would rise in our children. They would grow up to revolt against and flout rules. They might even kill.
Teachers, too, cannot abjure the responsibility inherent in their calling. They should not ask for insurance before wielding the cane. They must be of the character to irradiate discipline like the ancient gurus. Perhaps, Musa should think about a review of the qualifications of teachers.
Perhaps, it is time we had more sergeants among the ranks of the teaching profession.
Copyright © The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad, Balai Berita 31, Jalan Riong, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 25 June 2000
DAP: Present ruling on caning sufficient
KUALA LUMPUR: The DAP [opposition party] is against a proposal to extend the power to cane students to all teachers.
Its national publicity secretary Ronnie Liu said under the present regulation only principals and disciplinary teachers had the authority to cane students.
He said this was in the Education Regulation (School Discipline) and was "more than sufficient."
Liu was responding to a recent announcement by Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamed that the Government might allow all teachers to cane students.
He said the recent incidents of student misbehaviour was alarming but could be overcome with proper education, care and love.
"Hooliganism should be curbed through better education and greater co-operation between teachers and parents," he said, adding that the police could play a more active role in monitoring illegal activities.
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New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 28 June 2000
Letter Of The Day
Three-tiered approach to school discipline needed
LET'S face it. The students were more disciplined in the 1950s and 1960s. School life was about books, proper conduct and hobbies.
In my small town, if a student was found misbehaving or caught doing something wrong, the first question was "Who is his teacher?", not "Who is his father?".
Our teachers taught us that if wealth is lost, nothing is lost; if health is lost, something is lost but if character is lost, everything is lost. This philosophy, at least in my school, was the foundational premise on which the pillars of knowledge were erected.
The cane culture, as practised then, based on the wisdom of "spare the rod and spoil the child", had a sobering effect on the developing young minds, supported the foundational premise.
Over-indulgence by parents and an occasional abuse by a few teachers and the playing up of parental complaints in the Press helped to undermine the cane culture. The long-term effect is the slow but sure decline in teacher interest in discipline and finally the erosion in discipline.
Today, the cane culture of the 1950s and 1960s is gone. It has almost no place in the school system. Once again we had aped the West. The West is paying a very high toll for its misplaced belief in the benefits of demolishing the cane culture as something harsh, without putting in place a strong alternative.
The harsh reality is the deleterious effects of abandoning the need for a strong system of discipline in schools to build character and shape personalities into whose hands the future of the nation can be placed.
Today we pay a high price in the form of higher delinquency which is already shifting into higher gear in the form of gang fights and arson. Arson very quickly leads to more serious crimes and we have seen, in the West, how schoolchildren have "graduated" to acts of murder, manslaughter and mass murder, thanks to the easy access to guns.
I am not a proponent of mercilessly beating schoolchildren till they bleed or acquire blue-black marks for every little mistake or behavioural problem. Far from it. Children must be nurtured on love and knowledge and understanding.
A proper cane culture is one in which children are made to understand that certain types of behaviour are unacceptable and there are consequences. Some serious types of behaviour will attract punishment by caning. This type of system creates a framework in which they can conduct themselves responsibly.
Caning itself is second tier in the ladder of discipline preceded by a soft but firm counselling type approach and followed by police action in the third tier.
We need a structured approach and all teachers should be trained in it using a blueprint or manual developed by experts.
We took away the cane. A whole new generation has been raised without it. Bringing it back will face resistance. Instead a structured three-tier approach may be more appropriate, relevant and beneficial. It will minimise abuse as well. But something needs to be done and done fast. Spoil the child and you spoil the future.
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 29 June 2000
Sarawak Tribune, Kuching, 29 June 2000
Principals to meet on caning proposal soonBy Aden Nagrace
KUCHING - The National Secondary School Principals Association (NSSPA), Malaysia yesterday said its members will meet soon to deliberate on the proposal by the Education Ministry to allow teachers to cane students who misbehave.
Acting president of the association, Encik Alimud-din Hj Mohd Dom said NSSPA would meet in the next two weeks.
"We will have to further deliberate on the matter and to find out its pros and cons. Recommendations from the meeting will later be submitted for consideration by the Ministry," he added.
Asked to comment on the proposal, announced by the Education Minister Tan Sri Dato Seri Musa Muhammed on Tuesday, he said the association was "still not very clear" on the matter and that it would have to meet the minister for further clarification.
Encik Alimuddin was speaking to the press after the closing of the 39th Secondary School Principals National Education Management Conference here.
"According to the minister (Tan Sri Musa), what was reported in the media was not what he meant. So, we are not very sure of what the proposal is all about yet," he said.
"Tan Sri Musa informed us that he was actually misquoted by the media. He told us that the proposal was to empower certain teachers and not all the teachers as reported."
Encik Alimuddin, however, said that the association would support any measures undertaken by the ministry to improve schools in the country and the standard of education.
He told the press that the existing power granted to school principals was actually more than enough to discipline students.
"After counselling and warnings, we (the principals) are not only allowed to cane students but also to suspend and even expel them," he added.
On the NSSPA, he said the association would be stepping up efforts to enhance teachers-parents ties for more effective efforts to solve disciplinary problems in schools.
Encik Alimuddin pointed out that discipline problems in schools were not as bad as reported in the media.
"Personally, I think disciplinary cases (involving students) are very normal. The disciplinary cases are always there. They appear to be more now because they are highlighted by the media," he added.
Sarawak Tribune, Kuching, 29 June 2000
Adenan welcomes proposal to cane students for disciplinary reasons
KUCHING - Agriculture and Food Industries Minister Dato Adenan Satem has welcomed the Education Ministry's proposal to give all teachers the power to cane students for disciplinary reasons.
"I am in favour of using the cane but only when necessary. Corporal punishment have done me a lot of good," he added when closing the 39th Secondary School Principals National Education Management Conference here, yesterday.
"We cane because we love the students not otherwise. No teachers hate their students. You love them that's why you cane them, hoping they will realise their mistakes and not repeat them," he said.
Meanwhile, the Sarawak Secondary School Principal Association (SSSPA) said the ministry had its full backing on the proposal.
"Caning errant students will help to steer them back to the right path," its president Encik Christopher Tan said. "Teachers do not cane students to hurt them but to make them realise their mistakes."
Encik Tan said caning had been used to discipline students all this while but only the principals and disciplinary teachers were allowed to mete out the punishment.
However, the students should be caned only as a last resort after counseling had been provided and repeated warnings given.
"On top of that there should be guidelines on where the students could be caned. It should not be on any part of the body according to the whims and fancies of the principal or disciplinary teacher concerned, he added.
To another question, Encik Tan said the use of cane to discipline students had never been officially banned and it was actually one of the best means to discipline the students.
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