Suhakam help for students


  • Nation
  • Saturday, 29 Mar 2003

BY JACQUELINE ANN SURIN and Daniel Hor

KUALA LUMPUR: A teacher constantly calls a child “Gemuk (Fatty)” in class. The child does not want to go to school because of the humiliation. 

Under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, the child or the parents can file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) for degradation of dignity, Suhakam commissioner Prof Dr Chiam Heng Keng said. 

“If the child is too young, then of course, the parents would have to do it. But if the student is already in his or her teens, then the student can lodge the complaint,” Chiam said on Thursday at the Suhakam office after announcing the commission’s first art competition to raise human rights awareness among students. 

Chiam said the victims would have to complain first before Suhakam could investigate, adding however that the commission could also start a probe if it found many cases of human rights violations in a particular school. 

She said another example of the violation of a child’s rights was when schools did not pay attention to the development of slower students or did not develop all kinds of talents without discrimination. 

Chiam said Suhakam had found that because the school setting was full of human interaction among teachers, students and school administrations, human rights violations were likely to happen. 

“Many teachers, for example, have their rights violated when their personal safety or their vehicles are threatened by students or parents,” she said. 

For example, she said vandalism – the top disciplinary problem in schools – could potentially be reduced if children could learn to respect the right to property. 

The art contest, with a May 15 deadline, is open to all 18,000 schools in the country. The first prize is savings accounts worth RM500 for the primary school category, and RM1,000 for the secondary school category. 

Application forms are available at all schools through the respective state education directors.  

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