KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 – The lawsuit by a student in Kota Belud against her teacher for allegedly not coming in to teach for seven months has rightly raised eyebrows in the new Pakatan Harapan government with Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching saying it would be a disappointing affair, if proven true.
She said that the Education Ministry is still waiting for a detailed report from the Sabah State Education Department (NRD) on the lawsuit and the case referred to, Bernama reported.
“If indeed there was a complaint filed but was not given due attention, I feel we should check where the mistake or wrongdoing regarding the escalation of complaint was committed, if any,” she was quoted as saying.
Nafirah Siman, 18, a former SMK Taun Gusi filed the suit against Jainal Jamran, whom she accused of not coming in to teach for seven months in 2015, while she was in Form Four.
The suit also named the school principal Suid Hanapi, the Kota Belud district education officer, director of the Sabah Education Department, KPM, and the government as defendants.
According to the facts of the case filed in the suit on October 16, Nafirah claimed that Jainal did not come in to teach from February to October 2015, except for one week when an officer from the education ministry visited the school.
She also claimed that although several complaints had been made, no action had been taken, and that the principal allegedly closed the case by falsifying the attendance records, showing that Jainal was only absent for two months.
So many complaints ignored for too long.
This is not an unfamiliar scenario in schools, not only in Sabah, but also in peninsular Malaysia, and it has been ignored or neglected for too long.
Many Malaysians are familiar with this directly or have been told about it from friends and relatives, who are parents.
That there are teachers in national schools who are regularly absent and their principals have either been covering up such cases or just ignoring the problem so as not to deal with the administrative issues involved.
This is a far cry from the scenario when these parents and many of us had experienced schooling life more than 30 years ago, with teachers who were dedicated to their students and the noble vocation of teaching.
Not all, but too many teachers, who qualified over the past 20-30 years have been picked from the bottom of the barrel from among students who have passed their SPM and STPM and having no choice but to enter a teacher’s training institute.
They show no dedication nor commitment being guaranteed their monthly salaries and worse, not facing any action for their absence even a long period.
Sacked only after missing 2,000 days of work
It was reported last November that a civil servant under the Education Ministry was finally sacked after having missed 2,000 days of work.
The man was working at a rural school, but the then minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid did not specify if the staff in question was a teacher, a school clerk or lab assistant.
Bernama had reported the formed minister as saying that out of almost 3,500 cases of wrongdoing committed by employees under the Education Ministry between 2010 and October 2017, 55.4% of the cases were related to absenteeism.
More lawsuits to be filed?
This lawsuit by the Sabah student is timely and should be looked at as a test case for all parents and students to take legal action when their complaints are not looked into.
It should pave the way for more lawsuits to be filed against teachers, schools and principals over such neglect and lack of discipline by those who have the responsibility to teach the future generations of Malaysia.
The Pakatan Harapan-led government cannot ignore this situation, and should instead use it as a motivation to clean up all the weaknesses in the Education Ministry.
The time is now. There is no need for more reviews on what is going on. Just enforce every possible avenue available to the ministry and the state education departments.