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Chong urges calm as parents and teachers question inclusion of ‘good’ institutions

PETALING JAYA: It is not only the 402 schools on the leaked list of “hotspot schools” but all schools nationwide that will be monitored for disciplinary problems, said Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon.

“All schools are on our radar. If a school is not on the list, that doesn’t mean it has no disciplinary issues,” he said when contacted.

It was reported on Thursday that the list of schools that are at risk of serious disciplinary and drug problems had been leaked.

Chong urged parents to calm down as the list only meant that those schools would get more attention from the ministry and the police.

“It is not that those schools are terrible or problematic. That perception is not correct,” he said.

He told parents to view the move positively and that they did not need to transfer their children.

“These schools are still safe. The students are safe.

“Things will be normal at these schools. There will be more programmes for them, which is good,” he added.

Chong, who heads a special committee on the matter, stressed that the list was for internal use and it was unfair to the schools concerned for it to be circulated.

Of the 402 schools, 311 were under Category 1 for disciplinary problems and 91 under Category 3 for disciplinary and drug issues.

Some teachers were dismayed to find their schools on the list, while some students said their schools should be on it.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-gene­ral Harry Tan Huat Hock said the union wanted to know why good schools were also on the list.

“We are simply perplexed and need an explanation,” he told The Star.

He also said the criteria for designating the schools as “hotspots” should be revealed.

Authorities at the independent Hin Hua High School in Klang also wanted the ministry to disclose the grading criteria that led to it being on the list.

“Our students’ behaviour has been good throughout the years,” it said in a joint statement by its board, parent-teacher association and alumni association.

“We take pride in our students’ capabilities in discipline, self-awareness and learning.

“Being identified as a hotspot school is absurd,” said school principal Ng Swee Geok, who read out the statement during a press conference at the school.

Ng added that the school would write an official letter to the ministry and Bukit Aman police headquarters on the matter.

A teacher in Selangor said she was surprised that her school was classified as having disciplinary problems that needed police attention.

She said nothing major had ever happened in the school although she could not vouch for what students did outside.

She added that schools were supposed to keep a record of disciplinary problems, which was shared with school liaison officers (from the police) and this could have been how the list was drawn up.

Another teacher based in Selangor also insisted that her school did not deserve to be on the list.

“We have never had any big problems, why are we listed as a hotspot?” she asked.

A student from Seremban, who wanted to be known as Cynthia, said she was not surprised to find her school on the list.

“Although it is known as an excellent school,” she said, “ex-students can still be seen revving their motorcycles outside school.”

“There are also students threatening to start fights or call their gang members so that they can ‘take it outside’,” she added.

The Fifth Former said only a small percentage of students were involved in such activities but increased police surveillance would protect everyone.

Nur Shalina (not her real name), whose school was classified as Category 3, said she had never seen drug addicts or peddlers there.

“We have truancy but that is as bad as it gets,” said the 16-year-old.

Another Fifth Former from a school up north said she could not think of anything serious happening there “besides the usual disrespecting of teachers or going against prefects”.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said damage control was needed after the leak.

One deputy chairman of a parent-teacher association (PTA), who requested anonymity, said there were schools notorious for disciplinary problems that did not make the cut, yet his daughter’s school was identified as problematic.

“I’ve been there for four years and we don’t have any big issue with our students besides truancy,” he said, adding that the school was a top performer in the SPM examination.

He also said the PTA planned to meet the police liaison officer to discuss the matter and possibly get the school removed from the list.

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