NOT many schools can boast of having the Education Director-General at its Parent-Teacher Association (PIBG) annual general meeting.
Other than Datuk Abdul Rafie Mahat, the opening ceremony of SK Seksyen 1, Bandar Kinrara's, AGM was graced by Schools Division director Datuk Kusaini Hasbullah, Selangor Education Department (JPS) director Yusoff Harun and several other top ministry officials.
Abdul Rafie's presence at the AGM might have been influenced by reports that some teachers in the school had uttered racial slurs. Although the teachers concerned later apologised over their remarks, a spokesman for the parents action committee had demanded that they be transferred, a request which was not granted.
The ministry's action in letting the matter rest is not surprising, as it has always taken a non-confrontational approach in such situations. Abdul Rafie was quoted as saying that he considered the matter closed now that the teachers have apologised.
Although, no one made any direct reference to the case, school headmaster Ismail Supandi alluded to it when he thanked JPS officers for their guidance in overcoming any problems the school faced.
Abdul Rafie said he was impressed by the interest and active role taken by parents in the school's affairs.
The DG gave an inspiring speech to the parents and teachers gathered in the school hall. Touching on the role of a teacher, he said: “Teachers should treat pupils as if they are their own children. If they make mistakes, we can punish them. However, sometimes teachers too are at fault. Teachers must be tolerant and patient at all times.”
He reminded teachers that they have a big responsibility: “When you take charge of students, you are acting in place of their parents.”
To emphasise that it was doing something about the lack of racial integration in schools, JPS held the state-level Pupils Unity Camp at the school field. As well as opening the AGM, Abdul Rafie also officially closed the three-day camp.
A total of 200 pupils from nine neighbouring schools took part in the camp, aimed at nurturing goodwill and understanding among the three main races.
“Promoting integration has always been one of the ministry's goals, ever since the Plan to Integrate Pupils for Unity was introduced in 1986. I hope this camp will assist in promoting values like tolerance, unity and respect for each other. Teachers play an important role by acting as role models to instil these values,” said Abdul Rafie.
D. Aghilan, a Year Five pupil at SJK (T) Ladang Kinrara shared a tent with two other Indian pupils, two Malays and one Chinese during the camp. “Before taking part in the camp I rarely talked to pupils of other races but during the camp we did everything together,'' he said.
The other schools which took part in the camp were SK Seksyen 2 Bandar Kinrara, SK Bukit Kuchai, SK Puchong Jaya, SK Puchong, SK Pusat Bandar Puchong 1, SK Pusat Bandar Puchong 2 and SJK (C) Yak Chee.