Re-Post:Education Black hole in Sabah

From my siter's website: http://dreamyborneo.blog.com/4049746/

Cheated of Future

Last Friday, a news report highlighted by The Breakfast Show on NTV7 caught my eye. The hosts were discussing a story my colleague Julia had written in the NST on the plight of Pilatus Sahajiman and Malccolm Edvin who were "talked out" of sitting for their Year 6 compulsory exams three years ago by their principal. Their parents are now claiming that they were called for a meeting with the principal, who was not named in the report.

The parents say the principal told them the boys were academically weak and that if they sit for the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), they would pull down the school's performance and "humiliate" the school as well. Pilatus' father accepted what the principal said, thinking that perhaps it was government policy. Pilatus went on to Form 1 but soon lost interest and now does odd jobs cleaning heavy machinery and washing tractors when he should actually be in Form 3. Malccolm has stayed on in school, but his father says the boy has low-self esteem because of what happened three years ago.

The parents have since, with the assistance of Inanam Assemblyman Johnny Goh, filed a complaint with the Sabah Education Department. According to the newspaper report, the department has promised that "investigations are under way."

I sincerely hope the Education Department and its director, who was just last week conferred with the second highest honour by the Head of State, will actually take action and not just offer lip service.

I also hope the department will go to the ground to gather feedback from parents, especially in rural areas, on problems they face in making sure their children get quality education. I remember visiting a rural school in northern Sabah on a Thursday ... and everyone had left for the weekend. It is no wonder that today we see hundreds of children (not immigrants) working at shops, car wash outlets and in restaurants. Two weeks ago, I bought vegetables from a boy opposite the secondary school I attended. The only reason I stopped to buy vege was because I wanted to speak to the boy. He shared that he is 11, from a northern district in Sabah, and doesnt go to school because his family has no money. Then I entered a nearby shop, and saw another boy about 11 as well, carrying a box of sundry items on his tiny frame. A few months back, a colleague and I stopped at a car wash outlet in Ranau, and there were 5 boys there aged 12-13. All of them come from the same village, and say they would rather work because their parents are just too poor.

Is it just poverty that is keeping these children out of school, or are those entrusted with the responsibility of encouraging these potential future leaders to stay in school turning them away? Caring society? I dont think so.

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