Probe into segregation at school
Published on: Sunday, March 17, 2019
By: Ricardo Unto

KOTA KINABALU: The State Education Department is investigating alleged religion-based segregation of Form One students in a secondary school, here, that was supposedly initiated by parents.

The issue came to public attention when an online petition to protest against the said segregation in SM All Saints, Likas, went viral recently.

“The matter is still under investigation,” said State Education Director Mistirine Radin (pic) briefly via WhatsApp when asked to comment.

According to a statement on the online petition, it was initiated by a group of parents of Form One students in the school.

“Beginning January 2019, the school Principal segregated the Form One students based on religion,” said the statement.

“There are four classes for non-Muslims – Tulip, Jasmine, Cherry and Petunia, while two classes for Muslims – Lavender and Violet. They will be in these classes from 6am-1pm and it will persist until Form Three.”

The statement said, the measure was taken by the Principal due to three factors.

“The number one reason was safety – to ensure teachers and students are in the respective classes, and the second reason was the difficulty to find a vacant classroom for Islamic religious studies.

“The third reason was of students not attending Islamic religious studies as they do not know where it was being conducted,” it said.

However, students in Form Two until Five are currently studying in a non-segregation situation.

The statement further stated that since January, this year, various efforts had been made by parents of students involved to protest against the move.

“Unfortunately, these efforts were rejected by the Principal. She did not even want to meet with parents to discuss the matter, saying she was too busy.”

On March 9, parents had proposed several ideas during the school’s Parents and Teacher’s Association’s (PTA) annual general meeting.

“But the proposals were rejected by the Principal where she said it is her responsibility to make the final decision,” it said.

The statement claimed the principal was not being sensitive towards the issue and had disregarded the unity concept practised by the Education Department.

“The PTA itself was not notified about it and it was never brought up during the PTA meeting. The principal said parents have no right to interfere with the school administration.

“If such measure is not being contained, it will be adopted by other schools and eventually it will disrupt religious harmony.

“This petition is made to urge the government to rectify the matter and we have also notified the District Education Department and the Federal Education Minister.”

Meanwhile, State Assistant Finance Minister Kenny Chua, an alumnus of SM All Saints, was upset over the alleged segregation.

“As a former student, I am totally against it…do not segregate as this can cause religious disharmony,” he said.

At press time, the petition had gathered more than 5,700 signatures. Express tried but was unable to obtain the Principal’s contact number at press time for her side of the story.


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