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'I am doing this for all students'
Published on: Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Kota Kinabalu: The former student who is suing her ex-English teacher for refusing to teach the English subject in her Form Four class for seven months said she did it to stop a "culture of fear and silence in schools and intimidation by the education authorities".

Stressing that it is time to end this unhealthy culture, Siti Nafirah Siman, 19, said: "I want every school to give the best education to students. If there is any teacher who did not enter a classroom this matter should be settled immediately. Teachers lose nothing if they do not teach. But we students lose everything if we do not get to learn."

"The culture of fear for speaking up must end. Psychopathy culture with blackmailing and intimidating us must also be stopped," Siti Nafirah told a press conference, Tuesday. It is the first time in Malaysia that a student is suing the education authorities from the teacher right up to the Minister for failing to ensure that the student's constitutional right to education is fulfilled.

"Without teachers, we cannot succeed, we fail to achieve our goals. Without teachers, we lose direction, we lose education. Without education, our lives are despicable and meaningless. For the sake of our generation's future, what is more important than a teacher in a teaching class?" she said.

Siti Nafirah named former teacher Mohd Jainal Jamrin, a local, Hj Suid Hj Hanapi (in his capacity as principal of the SMK Taun Gusi), SMK Taun Gusi, Kota Belud District Education Officer, Sabah Education Director, Director General of Education Malaysia, Minister of Education Malaysia and Government of Malaysia as the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth defendant, respectively.

She filed the writ of summons at the High Court Registry through counsel Roxana Jamaludin on Oct. 16 and the first hearing is fixed for Nov. 19. Siti Nafirah said she was one of the 34 students in the Form Four Perdagangan class in 2015 in SMK Taun Gusi, Kota Belud who suffered because their English teacher refused to teach them from February to October.

"We were very stressed at that point because we feared we would fail our exam. We wanted to learn. We always looked forward to the presence of our English teacher in our classroom. Once in desperation, we tried to find a replacement teacher. The teacher only entered our class after months of abandonment, which was before the final examination for that year.
"We all failed in the English subject in our final year examination that year because we did not know how to answer the questions," she said.

"Today, I raise the voice of our generation who had been left alone. I represent the generation of students calling on all students in Malaysia to dare to defend their education rights.

"At the national level, I hope the education right of every student throughout Malaysia will be prioritised. Never again must they be subjected to this kind of persecution. When a teacher does not go to class, it destroys our education and our future."

She stressed that she appreciated the teachers' sacrifices and work hard in giving them the best education but would not tolerate teachers who deny their rights until they fail in the examination.

"Even worse if the teachers are protected by the school because no action is taken. The teacher is still working at the same school and will still not go to the class to teach.

"Why did the school silence the case? Where is the accountability? Why did the principal not take action? Why did the District Education Office ignore us? Why did the State Education Department remain," she said, adding these are questions she wants to see addressed in court when the trial starts.

"Quality education is our hope to change poverty. At SMK Taun Gusi, most of the students came from a difficult family. In that school too, most teachers have experienced misery and poverty as they become students like us. Now they are all successful and their lives are easier because they received good education," she said.

Meanwhile, Roxana who was present in the event assisted by law intern Jubili Anilik, made a correction to an earlier news report regarding the Dual Language Programme (DLP) by stating that the said school was not under the DLP and that this case had nothing to do with the DLP but the right of students to learn being denied.

Siti Nafirah is seeking, among others, a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants are in breach of their statutory duty under the Education Act by failing to; ensure that she is taught the English language during the period of Feb 2015 to Oct 2015; prepare her for examinations as prescribed under the Education Act.

She is also seeking a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants are in breach of their duty under Regulation 3C, 25, 26 Public Officers (Conduct and Discipline) Regulations 1913; a declaration that the act complained off by the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants amounted to misfeasance in public office;

She is also seeking a declaration that the first, second, fourth, fifth, seventh and eight defendants have violated her constitutional right to access to education guaranteed to her under Article 5 read together with Article 12 of the Federal Constitution, damages, costs and any further and other relief which the court may deem fit to grant. - Jo Ann Mool

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