KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Education Department is conducting an in-depth probe on a secondary school in Kota Belud after a former student filed a suit against her English language teacher for not conducting lessons for about eight months in 2015.
Department director Datuk Maimunah Suhaibul said investigations were being conducted at the moment, but refused to elaborate.
"This has become a court case, and I cannot comment further. Rest assured that we are doing what is necessary," she said when contacted Wednesday (Oct 31).
Sabah Education and Innovation Minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob said he was, personally, very concerned about the allegations and the overall situation.
"I'm monitoring this case closely," he said, even though his ministry was not directly involved in the matter.
"This case is under the state Education Department and Education Ministry at the federal level," he said.
Dr Yusof said he had contacted Maimunah, and was told her department was doing the investigations and other relevant actions.
Asked whether they would be looking at similar cases that had been reported to the department over the years, he said yes.
"Actually, this bad habit of teachers and other government officers who 'ponteng kerja' (are absent without leave) is not new," he said.
"But stakeholders or clients (in this case, the student) suing the department or government is something new," Dr Yusof said.
He said there were clear guidelines for disciplinary action against government servants who were found to have shirked their duties.
On Tuesday (Oct 30), former secondary school student Siti Nafirah Siman sued her teacher for not turning up to teach English classes at SMK Taun Gasi, in Kota Belud, Sabah in 2015, when she was in Form Four.
Siti, now 19, said in court papers filed at the Kota Kinabalu High Court on Oct 16 that the absence of the teacher was a denial of her rights to access education.
Siti said she subsequently failed her English paper in the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) examinations, and thsi had dampened her future.
Siti believed it was a violation of her rights for the teacher to be absent for most of the year in 2015.
In court papers, she named the teacher, the principal, and the secondary school management as first, second and third defendants respectively.
She also named the Kota Belud District Education officer, Sabah Education Department director, Education director-general, Education Minister and the government as the fourth to eight defendants respectively.
In her statement of claim, she said that the teacher stopped teaching her class from February 2015 and that he remained absent till November of that year, except for about a week in October 2015.
The writ of summons is expected to be heard by the court on Nov 19.
Student sues former English teacher who 'skipped class' for 8 months