While most Malaysians were enjoying the school holidays, one teacher and one family were going though a VERY.BAD.TIME. Azizan Manap (now popularly known as Cikgu Azizan) had allegedly slapped his 11-year-old pupil on the left cheek in school, last April. The boy had been sniffing glue, bullied other students and played truant, claimed the teacher. Then Azizan got ‘the call‘ from the police:
“I went completely numb when the officer told me that I would be charged in court with causing hurt to the pupil in five days. I will never forget the moment for the rest of my life.” – Cikgu Azizan told reporters, The Star
Things got really crazy, with netizens supporting the 44-year-old educator and hashtagging #PrayForCikguAzizan. But Cikgu Azizan wasn’t the only one who suffered coz people were sending death threats to the boy’s family (?!?). It’s been a heckuva roller coaster ride for everyone.
“My family and I have been facing a lot of pressure since details of the case went viral. Many people have accused us of deliberately taking the matter to court. This has taken a toll on us.” – the boy’s dad, The Star
According to the school’s Parent Teacher Association, the parents were acting on the advice of the hospital to make a police report… not that they intended to drag the teacher to court. At last, the Magistrate Court gave Cikgu Azizan a discharge not amounting to an acquittal, as he wiped away tears.
So many cases of parents threatening teachers nowadays. What’s up with that?
The ordeal may be over for Cikgu Azizan, but we’re holding our breath until the next teacher gets threatened with a lawsuit. Won’t be long now *checks watch*. What do you guys think?
Dunno bout you guys, but it feels like there are more and more incidents of parents siding with their kids rather than teachers. Or maybe it is just being reported more in the media nowadays. There are no statistics to quantify how prevalent this is in Malaysia, but here are some headlines:
Housewife Tan Seow Yen, 36, acquainted the palm of her hand with BM teacher L. Vanitha’s face, at SJK (C) Chong Kuang in Sungai Bakap because the teacher had pinched her 8-year-old son at the nape of his neck. But the boy was only poor in the subject, not behaving mischievously or causing disturbance to others. So the slapper was sent to the slammer for six months and fined RM2,000, (under the same section of the Penal Code that Cikgu Azizan was charged with).
Another female teacher in Kedah was slapped by her student’s mom, but in this case, the teacher didn’t even lift a finger on the kid. She merely scolded the boy during sports day because he left his team’s tent. Upset about the scolding, the boy’s dad confronted the teacher, who told him to return to the area allocated for parents. He returned with his wife who then took matters into her own…hands. After that, 12 teachers from the school lodged a joint police report against the mother.
Here’s another one, a student’s dad burst into the bilik guru, cursing at teacher Salina Daud for taking disciplinary action against his son, who used foul language (well we know where he got it from). The dad also ruffled up some school exercise books piled on her desk, while in other reports, Salina said he hurled books at her. Whoa, the angry panda is strong in this dad.
Ok last one, religious teacher Mohd Zaid Yob was charged at court for pulling a 12-year-old student’s nose – same section in the Penal Code that Cikgu Azizan was charged with – voluntarily causing hurt. On top of taking legal action, the kid’s father reportedly roughed him up.
To be fair, we’ve heard worse stories of teachers abusing students, like Mohamad Thaqif Amin Mohd Gaddafi, who was beaten on his legs with a water hose by the school’s assistant warden. His legs turned black and both had to be amputated, however the boy didn’t survive. Click here for more stories in our previous article. Of course any parent would be pissed if this happened to their child!
So you get the picture. There are some parents who don’t like the idea of their kids being punished (corporal punishment, or even scoldings) by ughh THE TEACHER, and would defend their kids to the point of harassing or assaulting the teacher, or going to court.
Are teachers losing their ‘invincibility’?
In the good old days (definition up for debate), teachers were practically invincible in school. Students had to respect them, some even feared them (except the more gangster kids mebbe). Corporal punishment was the norm and anything in the classroom could be used as tools to punish kids.. feather duster, ruler, books, chalk, blackboard duster. Don’t even get us started on the school Robocop (read: guru disiplin)!
The point is, back then, a student might feel like their own parents are in cahoots with teachers to punish them coz some parents would encourage the teacher to whack harder. Sometimes the teacher had the parents’ support to discipline the kids.
But now the tables have turned it seems. Today Online wrote about how some parents have turned into bullies as Malaysian schools adopt the ‘gentle’ approach. While corporal punishment is still permitted, the Education Ministry will not condone student abuse, as they have clear guidelines on how to implement punishment. Where it was ok to have public caning 20 years ago, the rotan is only wielded today in a private setting, guided by stringent regulations.
“A teacher cannot cause harm or hurt a pupil. That is the main rule. No matter what the reason, you cannot lay your hands on a child. If you have a problematic kid, there are always counselling sessions, there are always parents, talk to them.” – P. Kamalanathan, Deputy Education Minister, Free Malaysia Today
Teachers say that the Cikgu Azizan case only proves there are difficulties in educating youths today. The National Union of Teaching Profession (NUTP) is worried about educators facing a higher risk of prosecution now. Even on the other side, some parents groups are outraged that teacher Mohd Zaid Yob can be so easily prosecuted for pulling a student’s nose. NUTP revealed that it was some parents who approached the union to aid Cikgu Azizan.
“It seems that whoever ‘touches’ the children will face court action. What message are we sending to the public in charging the teacher?” – Mak Chee Kin, Chairman of Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie), Free Malaysia Today
So where does that leave teachers, parents and more importantly the students?
Students and teachers have rules to follow. Hey how about rules for parents too?
Students have 1001 rules to follow in school and teachers also have guidelines from their bosses, the Education Ministry. So, the NUTP suggested yeah why not establish a code of ethics for parents too, coz parents also have misbehaved and let’s face it, when they assault teachers, it’s not exactly setting the best example for children either.
Countries like Sweden have such a code, said NUTP. They proposed that the Education Ministry work with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development to brainstorm this and cover what parents have to adhere to when meeting teachers in school. Ultimately, the NUTP has to protect teachers from being attacked, however they clarified that it would not protect teachers who step out of line and abuse students.
“If it is not done within one year, we will be forced to hold a peaceful gathering to remind the ministry to do so.” – Harry Tan Huat Hock, NUTP Secretary-General, The Star
Meanwhile, the Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) added that parents should chillax and listen to both sides of the story (from their children and the teacher involved) before losing their minds. “Give them both the benefit of the doubt and be neutral in dealing with disciplinary issues. And then find a solution together on what we can do to improve the student’s discipline,” said Chairman Noor Azimah Rahim said. Backing this up, the Education Ministry wants peace! They urged parents and teachers to work together.
“Having said that, we urge parents to solve serious discipline issues amicably. I must stress again that dragging cases like that to court has serious impact on the teaching profession and it doesn’t solve the issue.” – Datuk Chong Sin Woon, Deputy Education Minister, The Star