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‘Speed is good but more time needed’

PETALING JAYA: Swift action will prevent disciplinary issues from becoming full-blown problems, but some stakeholders feel that the one-week period given to solve each case is too short.

While in favour of the 1:3:7 formula, the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) said “serious cases” must be defined.

“Speedy action is key to preventing schools from becoming hotspots for indiscipline,” NUTP secretary-­general Harry Tan Huat Hock said yesterday.

“We have to put out the fire early before it becomes a problem.”

He agreed on the need for documenting discipline cases, but appealed to the Education Ministry to “make it clear” the types of cases that must be reported.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon had earlier said that schools must resolve all discipline-related cases within seven days.

The school principal must prepare a report on the day of the incident itself, and the state or district education department must receive it within three days.

Referring to the 402 schools on the “hotspot list” for discipline problems that was leaked last week, Tan said best practices in maintaining discipline must be identified.

He said there were many schools with good records which could be studied and emulated.

“Study their methods, document their ways and train our discipline teachers. It’s crucial that discipline teachers are tough, stern and strong,” he added.

A parent-teacher association (PTA) chairman here said the move, while good, could result in added pressure on school heads who have to be efficient despite dealing with a myriad of different cases.

“It won’t be easy,” he said, noting that reports on discipline cases could still be manipulated.

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said there was a lack of enforcement of the 1:3:7 formula.

“It is not new. Some schools followed the formula, which is why they ended up on the hotspot list.”

He said addressing the cause of problems in school was more important than enforcing 1:3:7.

Many serious cases happen outside school but when students are caught, their schools get dragged in, Mak said.

“The root of the problem is outside influence, upbringing, home environment and parents too.”

He suggested a “buddy system” where schools with disciplinary problems transfer problematic students among themselves.

“Students can be transferred to a buddy school with experience in cases like theirs, so it’s not a new problem for those schools.”

Describing it as an administrative measure to keep the ministry updated on school happenings, a school principal in Kuala Lumpur said the 1:3:7 formula was to ease reporting of cases and help the ministry understand grassroots problems.

However, she said seven days was not enough to “wrap up” cases like rape and drug abuse.

“Dealing with human beings isn’t easy. It’s not that we don’t want to close the case,” she said.

A senior assistant in Petaling Jaya agreed, saying: “Resolving a case in the fastest time possible does not mean it is the best way to curb it.

“The issue would remain if the root cause is not understood and handled properly.”

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam considered a week to be enough but said parents must be more involved in what was happening at their children’s school.

“Don’t kick up a fuss when your children are punished for something they did wrong,” he said, adding that 1:3:7 was a positive move by the ministry to clamp down on serious indiscipline.

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