HULU LANGAT: In a bid to promote water safety among children, Dr Maszlee Malik has urged hotels to allow schools to use their swimming pools. But many, even hoteliers, are deeply concerned over the safety aspect of such a move.
The Education Minister, who noted that not all national schools have access to swimming pools to provide swimming lessons, had urged hotels to allow schools to use their pools as part of their corporate social responsibility efforts.
“We hope that hotels will be proactive after we make this announcement,” he said after launching the Life-Saving Skills Programme and Water Safety and Rescue Awareness Module for Malaysian Schools 2018.
Dr Maszlee added that there were schools which were not even located near swimming pool centres.
The move, he said, would enable more students to learn not only how to swim but also life-saving skills and increase safety awareness among them.
“The ministry will soon discuss this suggestion with hotels,” he said.
Dr Maszlee said sports clubs were already providing their pools to students, and hotels would be “the extra mile”.
“Right now, swimming and water safety activities are included in co-curricular activities for clubs, associations and uniformed bodies in schools,” he added.
He also said that the water safety awareness and rescue module launched yesterday would be taught from preschool until upper secondary national schools.
When asked about the feasibility of the proposal, Penang Hoteliers Association chairman Datuk Lim Mee Lee stressed that hotel pools were meant for their guests’ use.
“If students want to use the pools, they will have to get permission from the hotels first,” he said.
He also highlighted the issue of safety of students if they were allowed to use hotel pools.
“If students use the hotel pools, who is going to ensure their safety?” Lim asked.
Instead, he suggested that the government build more public pools for students.
SMK Assunta Petaling Jaya Parent-Teacher Association chairman Alan Goh described Dr Maszlee’s suggestion as “illogical”.
He questioned who would take care of the students’ safety during the swimming sessions.
“There are so many students and what happens if the teacher is not able to pay attention to all of them?” he asked.
He also wondered if the school or the hotel would be responsible if something untoward happened.
Mother of two Jennifer Tan concurred, saying that it was not fair to impose this move on hotels.
“They will have to spend more on insurance as liability increases,” she said.
Another parent, Gloria Tan, said under the current economic climate, parents might not want to fork out money for lessons, bus fares and additional insurance coverage.
“The ministry should resolve grassroots issues in schools first.
“It’s important to be realistic and not to be too ambitious; implement programmes in bite sizes so that schools have quality programmes rather than quantity that’s not done to the best of abilities,” said Tan, who has two children in secondary school.
Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said it was crucial to ensure the presence of trained instructors and lifeguards during lessons.
“The intention is good but children’s lives are at stake.
“Logistics and transporting students to hotels may pose a problem (to schools).
“An alternative to hotels that the ministry can look at are public pools, colleges and varsities as well as neighbouring schools which have swimming facilities,” she said.