JOHOR BARU: The issue of only Muslim students attending an SPM workshop has been blown out of proportion, says the Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairman of a school in Johor.
Infant Jesus Convent (IJC) Johor Baru PTA chairman Nasution Putra Saad Putra said a special PTA meeting would be held on Sunday (Jan 29) and they hope to engage with the parent who raised the issue to resolve the matter amicably.
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“I am sad about the whole issue but if I have to apologise even 10 times, I am willing to do it to put this matter to rest.
“I am only concerned for the well-being of the students as I do not want their studies or their relationships to be affected,” he said in an interview.
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Nasution, who took over as PTA chairman last year, said that the programme was done in good faith and there were supposed to be two sessions, which was on Jan 19 and 20, and another after Chinese New Year.
He added the school administration was under a lot of pressure to ensure all the SPM students passed in their examinations.
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He also refuted allegations that Muslim students were given actual SPM examination questions during the programme.
"If there was a leak in the questions, I am sure the teachers will get into major trouble or can even be arrested,” he said, hoping that parents would calm down and not prolong the matter.
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He also said that he was sad that the issue had been misconstrued and taken a racial tone.
“The PTA hopes to engage with the parent who had lodged the complaint on Sunday. I have known the person for 15 years and I am sure we will be able to resolve it,” he added.
Asked why he disabled the parent support group (KSIB) WhatsApp since the issue started, he said that he had too, as the matter was being blown out of proportion and getting out of hand.
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“I will reinstate the KSIB WhatsApp group once we finish the meeting on Sunday,” he said.
Asked about the funding for the two-day programme at a hotel here, Nasution said that 20% was from the PTA while 80% was from the school, parents and sponsors.
The issue was first highlighted on social media and it went viral about the school allegedly organising an SPM workshop only for Muslim students.
The school held a two-day, one-night SPM workshop for only Muslim students at a hotel, saying that it will only involve religious-related subjects.
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However, it turned out to be a comprehensive workshop covering subjects such as Chemistry, Additional Mathematics and other subjects.
This prompted Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Ibni Almarhum Sultan Iskandar to also issue a statement that no one should be left out of any public programmes because of their race or religion.
Meanwhile, a concerned parent said that the matter could have easily been resolved if the school admitted its mistake and took responsibility in the first place.
“They should not be trying to cover up. If there was an oversight just admit the mistake, apologise and let’s move on,” she said, adding that the parents only want the school principal and PTA to be honest and transparent.
“They should not try to be defensive or divert or shift the blame on others,” another parent said, adding that he too was disappointed in the way the matter was handled by both the school and Education Ministry.
He said that schools should play a part in fostering unity among the students instead of dividing and segregating them.
He said that out of the 40 students who failed, 21 were non-Muslims while 19 were Muslim students.
“So there are actually more non-Malay students who need help than Muslim students. Also why were the students attending the programme on Jan 19 and 20 asked to take a pledge not to tell their peers about the programme,” he said, hoping that the school administration would be more sensitive when organising such events in future.