SUHAKAM: Childrens dignity violated in ‘eat grass’ incident

KUALA LUMPUR: The punishment allegedly meted out against two students of Sekolah Jenis Kebangsaan (C) Khai Meng in Sungkai, Perak, was in violation of international standards on children’s rights.

The Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (SUHAKAM) said that the way the punishment was conducted— with the two students wearing bells for failing to complete their homework— had violated the student’s human dignity.

“Article 28(2) of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (CRC) specifically states the need for the Government to ensure that school discipline is administered in a manner consistent with the child’s human dignity,” said SUHAKAM’s chairman Tan Sri Hasmy Agam in an e-mail statement to Astro AWANI.

Hasmy also called on school authorities to ensure that an effective recourse mechanism is in place to allow both teachers and students to channel their grievances.

Referring to the statement by Education Director-General Datuk Dr. Khair Mohamad Yusof, who said that the teacher involved will be transferred, Hasmy said that failure to do homework should not be deemed as a disciplinary offence.

It should be dealt with through appropriate guidance instead of extreme punishment, he said.

Hasmy also called on school authorities to be mindful of the ultimate aim of education, as enshrined in Article 29(1) of the Convention.

“That is to ensure the child’s full and healthy development of his or her potential in all aspects of life. Therefore, it is imperative for them to treat students with dignity and to promote mutual respect instead of resorting to punishment that could have a detrimental impact on students’ self-esteem and learning process,” he said.

Meanwhile, Hasmy also said that SUHAKAM was concerned over the publicising of the faces of the children by the media, which he said could add to their humiliation.

“The Commission deems it important for both the parents and media to be sensitive to the dignity and rights of every child in every circumstance, particularly their right to privacy and confidentiality,” he said.

On Thursday, a parent of two 10-year-old students alleged that their teacher had hung bells around their necks and scolded them, likening them to cows that should ‘eat grass’.

The students’ offence was failing to complete their homework.

Following a police report and public outcry over the matter, the teacher was found by the Education Ministry to have “punished the students excessively” and was reportedly be transferred.