Groups urge greater scrutiny of homeschooling system


PETALING JAYA: Education advocates are calling for the tracking of Malaysian children to ensure they attend formal primary schools, whether public or private.

This measure aims to prevent exposure to inappropriate content, following concerns raised after a man, allegedly without formal education, attacked a police station in Ulu Tiram, Johor, on Friday.

ALSO READ: Ulu Tiram attack: Attacker acted on his own

Experts emphasised that since primary education is compulsory, homeschooled children must also be registered with District Education Offices (PPD).

Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said the PPD was already overseeing homeschool syllabuses to guarantee children receive a solid grounding in basic subjects and are not exposed to problematic content.

He suggested that had the assailant and his siblings been homeschooled, the PPD would have monitored their progress, underscoring the need for comprehensive registration.

“If the parents did not register with the PPD, then it is a question of monitoring all registrations.

“There should be a system to monitor whether all children receive formal education since it is already compulsory by law,” said Mak when contacted.

Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim, who heads the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE), echoed these views, saying that such a system should be strictly enforced.

“Whether parents choose to homeschool their children, there needs to be an avenue to inform the Education Ministry. Impose a penalty if parents fail to do so,” she said.

As per the Education Ministry, Malaysian parents are obliged to enrol their six-year-old children in primary school and ensure completion of Year One to Six.

Homeschooling requires ministry approval, adherence to the national curriculum, and regular inspections by education authorities.

Failure to provide primary education can result in fines of up to RM5,000 or six months’ imprisonment.

The assailant, hailing from Kampung Sungai Tiram, was from a remote settlement whose members shied away from the surrounding community.

One resident claimed that the assailant and his three siblings had no formal schooling and were educated by their father, who is purportedly linked with the Jemaah Islamiah extremist group.

The assailant was killed in the attack that claimed two policemen’s lives and injured another, following which, five of his family members were detained for questioning.

Mak from Magpie, however, conceded that such rigorous monitoring could be challenging as families often move away from their place of birth.

“The onus is still on the parents. If the parents are responsible, they need to register their children for primary school and the same thing applies to homeschooling,” he said.

PAGE’s Azimah, however, said agencies such as the Welfare Department and the Education Department still have a role to play to ensure that every Malaysian child in their records is registered either in a formal institution or has applied to be homeschooled.

“Once the state Education Department has a record, the PPD should be made responsible to ensure standards are met. The ministry could even impose the need for official approval to proceed with the parents’ form of homeschooling,” she said.

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Ulu Tiram , police station , attack

   

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