‘No, we won’t sue parents’

Our future: Fadhlina (third from left) observing student activities at the school. – AZMAN GHANI/The Star

THE Education Ministry won’t take parents to court for not sending their children to school, even as it aspires to make secondary education compulsory.

“Even though the implication and the law is there to punish parents, I think we should focus on emphasising how important education is, addressing the issue of student dropouts, and making sure every child has equal access to education,” said Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek.

She stressed that the advocacy process has to align with parents’ awareness so there will be no issues with students not attending school.

“What is most important here is that children must go to school,” she said at a press conference at SK Pendidikan Khas Jalan Batu (L), Kuala Lumpur, on March 22.Fadhlina had earlier told Parliament that the ministry had submitted a draft proposal to make secondary education compulsory to the Attorney General’s Chambers.

Fadhlina said she hoped to table the Bill in Parliament so that the issue of dropouts could be solved with the implementation of the law.

Responding to a question at the press conference, Fadhlina said there was no need to close canteens during Ramadan even though the non-Muslim student population of the school was lower than 10%.

“It is about compassion for one another. Malaysia Madani is an inclusive government, so both sides have to respect each other. Those who are fasting have to respect those who are not and vice versa.

“We need to remember that we also have Muslim students who are not required to fast as well because they’re still young, so there’s no need to close the canteens.

“I don’t want to see kids eating beside drains or in a storage room,” she added.

On special needs education, Fadhlina said the ministry was engaging with all relevant quarters to revamp the current system.

“We want to ensure that our curriculum complements the needs of the children and the current needs of our society,” she said after launching the Yayasan PETRONAS’ back-to-school programme, which will run until May.

The programme will benefit 21,000 students from low-income families nationwide.

On teachers retiring early, Fadhlina said this was due to health and financial issues, widening digital divide, and the need to spend quality time with family.

“The ministry will ensure teacher placements are filled up quickly when teachers retire early.

“We will also work on increasing the professionalism of current teachers and provide social and emotional support to those who are struggling,” she said.

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