Archive for the ‘Children's Safety’ Category

Help students feel safe in schools

Tuesday, June 23rd, 2020
Teachers are now busy preparing for it and are implementing the Education and Health ministries’ anti-Covid-19 guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP). -NSTP/HALIMATON SAADIAH SULAIMANTeachers are now busy preparing for it and are implementing the Education and Health ministries’ anti-Covid-19 guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP). -NSTP/HALIMATON SAADIAH SULAIMAN

LETTER: In a few days, schools will reopen after a long break due to the Covid-19 pandemic. They are now busy preparing for it and are implementing the Education and Health ministries’ anti-Covid-19 guidelines and standard operating procedures (SOP).

Although it appears that schools are ready for their reopening, are we psycho-emotionally prepared? When Covid-19 hit the country and the Movement Control Order (MCO) was implemented on March 18, almost everyone was in a state of disarray as they feared the disease and did not know whether they had enough food and other essentials at home to last during the MCO period.

Thus it is important for children to feel safe in schools. This is the main concern of parents.

Will the students follow the SOP, practise social distancing and keep themselves safe at all times? How will their social interactions be managed? Are all those returning to school free of the virus? They risk facing exposure to it as they will be surrounded by their friends whose movement history during the MCO is not known.

It is important to explore the students’ immediate needs in the first week of school. This can be done by preparing a platform for them to ask questions about the current situation. This psycho-educational module should include Covid-19-related information, such as the disease, its effects on society and the importance of staying safe.

Issues arising from the session must be addressed carefully before a class can be conducted. A student needs assessment or a survey can be made in the first week of the reopening of school. During the session, however, teachers need to take note that they may be confronted with certain issues, such as tensions between students and their family members, which may have been triggered by the MCO.

This is more likely to happen to students who are victims of domestic abuse. The prolonged stress experienced during the MCO may lead them to have unhealthy coping responses, such as self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

Other family issues that might occur during the MCO are divorces and parental job losses. These will adversely affect their children. Students of such households will likely see the returning to school as a respite from such pressures.

These students must know that the school is providing them with psycho-emotional support. Teachers and counsellors must identify students who are reluctant to return to school and those with other issues which can interfere with the teaching and learning process.

Such students should undergo counselling sessions so that school counsellors can help them better cope with their issues and instil confidence and optimism.

Parents need to trust the schools to protect their children. Parents must remind their children about the importance of staying safe and maintaining social distance when meeting friends.

To the students, issues may have arisen during the MCO period. If anything bothers you, talk to your school counsellor.


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Safety for students, teachers

Monday, June 22nd, 2020
School canteens are places where students needs to observe social distancing, but it may be a challenge for teachers to ensure they follow the ruling. - NSTP/File picSchool canteens are places where students needs to observe social distancing, but it may be a challenge for teachers to ensure they follow the ruling. – NSTP/File pic

LETTERS: IT’S welcome news that children can soon go back to school after a three-month break forced by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Students in Forms Five and Six will return to school on June 24. They will return in stages and will have to follow strict standard operating procedures (SOP) drawn up by ministries.

There is little doubt that their return will be well-managed, considering the maturity of students and the capabilities of teachers and principals, and under the watchful eye of the Education Department and Education Ministry.

But of concern is the return of pre-schoolers and pupils. Parents and teachers have expressed concern about the difficulty in ensuring that toddlers and little children maintain a safe distance from one another.

This may not be a big issue in classrooms where desks and playmats are placed some distances apart, but it becomes a challenge when the children are in canteens and toilets, and while waiting for their transport to go home.

The other concern is whether teachers and carers are trained to enforce the new norms and follow the SOP. This might cause more stress in teachers.

It is reassuring that the authorities are aware of this possibility and are providing counselling to teachers and students.

It would help if the Education Ministry sets up a counselling centre to cater for teachers and principals.

The ministry might even set up a hotline to answer queries and offer information and advice, especially on matters not yet covered by the SOP.

The Education director-general could address schools by providing information with statistics, advice and encouragement.

She could give credit to exemplary schools, laud innovative SOP drawn up by schools, and highlight the work of exemplary teachers and students.

For secondary school students, the Curriculum Development Unit could introduce a lesson on infectious diseases, how to avoid them and how to stay healthy.

Then there is the matter of additional costs that schools have to bear to provide hand sanitiser, face masks and Personal Protective Equipment. Perhaps parent-teacher associations can offer a helping hand.

There is also the question of ensuring the long-term mental health of children and adolescents.

How prepared are they to meet the new challenges posed by technology, Information Technology and Artificial Intelligence?

These new challenges will leave lasting scars on children if they are not given care and guidance by parents and teachers.

For this reason, parents and teachers must first equip themselves with knowledge and skills to monitor children’s stress levels and help them cope at school and at home.

It is important to create an environment for children to nurture good and supportive peer groups.

And children must be shielded from the effects of an overdose of IT and mobile devices at a tender age so that they don’t become misfits later in life.


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SOP in place to ensure safety of students at school

Wednesday, June 10th, 2020
Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the SOP was distributed to all schools on June 4 as preparation. -- Pix: NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALIEducation Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the SOP was distributed to all schools on June 4 as preparation. — Pix: NSTP/MOHAMAD SHAHRIL BADRI SAALI

KUALA LUMPUR: As Form Five, Form Six, Vocational and Malaysian Higher Islamic Religious Certificate (STAM) students are returning to class on June 24, the Education Ministry has announced the standard operating procedure (SOP) for their safety.

Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the SOP was distributed to all schools on June 4 as preparation.

“I am sure parents are wondering about the safety of their children once schools reopen.

“Don’t worry, we are confident that with the cooperation from parents, teachers and students in adhering to the SOP, our students will be able to attend classes safely,” he told a press conference in Putrajaya today.

He said school session will be done in stages to avoid congestion and the time will be announced by the ministry soon.

Students’ health

To ensure the safety of all students, Radzi called on parents to only send their children who are healthy to school.

Students who have symptoms such as fever, cough, flu, sore throat and breathing difficulties should not be allowed to go to schools.

“If they have symptoms, bring your children for health screenings,” he said.

However, if the students with symptoms have already entered the school, Radzi said teachers will provide them with face masks and they will then be transferred to an isolation room while waiting for their parents to pick them up.

Entering schools

Upon entering the school, Radzi said students’ temperature will be taken and the same goes to teachers, other school workers as well as individuals who need to enter the school.

Anyone with a body temperature of 37.5 degree Celsius or higher will not be allowed to enter the school ground, he said.

“After that, students will have to walk using a dedicated path to their respective classes and while at school, they will always be reminded to practise good hygiene, such as washing their hands regularly.

“In the classroom, desks will be arranged one metre apart so basically, the maximum capacity in a class is 20 students.

“If the class is conducted in a bigger room such as the school hall, the maximum capacity can be increased, as long as the desks are arranged one metre apart from one another,” he said.

Recess time

Although parents may be worried that social distancing will be difficult to implement during recess time at school canteens, Radzi assured that this will not be the case because the recess time will be in stages.

“At the canteen, food and drinks will be readily packed and students will have to line up in accordance to the social distancing SOP,” he said.

After that, Radzi said, the students will have to eat in their respective classes under the observation of their teachers.

“Parents or guardians are encouraged to provide packed food from home for their children.

“Aside from teachers’ role, we would also like to call on parents or guardians to always remind their children to practise social distancing and good hygiene at all times.”

Outdoor activities

All outdoor activities such as sports and co-curriculum activities that require face-to-face interactions are not allowed at the moment and, according to Radzi, this includes school assemblies.

At hostels

In the beginning, Radzi said only students who are sitting for public examinations are allowed to enter their respective hostels.

“The beds will be arranged one metre apart and the number of beds in the dorm will depend on the size of the room.

“Aside from that, students will eat according to rotation, depending the number of students present at the time and the tables too will be arranged according to the social distancing SOP,” he said.

The minister added that the SOP will be improved from time to time based on the recommendations by the Health Ministry.

By Adib PoveraArfa Yunus.

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Educate children about electrical safety

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

ELECTRICY safety education should be a priority in schools.

Students must be educated in school about electrical use, its safety features, how accidents happen and how to avoid such incidents from happening.

This way, we keep our schools safe from mishaps.

It is important that we teach them about the dangers from a young age as there is danger even in handling common electrical appliances. We do not want to read of children being hurt, maimed or killed by electricity.

Parliament was informed last year that electrical rewiring programme for some 2,046 schools has begun. This programme will be carried out in stages with critical schools given priority.

I hope a proper job is done as the safety of our kids is of concern.

We must ensure that there are enough sockets in classrooms. As a teacher, I notice that many schools use electrical extension cords. That can be hazardous.


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Keeping our children safe

Sunday, May 10th, 2020

Better safe than sorry: It is crucial for parents to maintain a secure online environment for children given the extra screen time amid the MCO.

CHILDREN have been spending more time on the Internet since the implementation of the movement control order (MCO).

While going online allows children to learn, play and socialise with friends, it also increases the risk of dangers on the Net.

Digi child cybersafety expert Philip Ling said it is crucial for parents to maintain a healthy online environment for children during this unprecedented time.

“We are all spending more time online to work, socialise and get by in our daily lives. Our children need to be prepared with what to expect with the online lifestyle and have the know-how to recognise risks and how to deal with them, ” the father-of-two active girls said.

He shares some tips on how parents can create a safer Internet experience for their children:

> Talk to your children and win their trust. Curious and innocent children accept everything at face value and may be unable to differentiate between right or wrong as well as fake or genuine characters. Observe their internet activities and build trust by showing interest in what they do online. Find out the sites and applications they use, and who their friends online are. Clearly highlight possible scenarios and risks they may encounter on the Internet. Let them know that they can confide in you about an uncomfortable experience or unsuitable content they encounter online.

> Set rules and routines together. Take the MCO as an opportunity to set boundaries on how children spend time online wisely by utilising bookmarks, setting filters, or pre-approved playlists. Set a rule for younger children to ask for permission before downloading any applications on devices. Refer to applications’ reviews by online parental sites to make informed decisions on age-appropriate applications for your child.

> Encourage them to spend quality time online.

It is important for children to maintain social contact which can be done via social media. Teach them how to responsibly use video conferencing chats to stay connected and help them discover the do and don’ts. Challenge children to use the Internet to learn a new language or play games that encourage critical thinking.

> Make use of the MCO for quality bonding with family.

Make the best of this extended bonding time by taking breaks from screens and finding fun things to do together around the house. That could include chores! Enlist your children to try out the latest recipe discovered on social media or host a cook-off as part of your dinner team rotation. Put on dance workout videos or learn how to play that multiplayer game your child has been obsessed with.

For more information and resources on cybersafety awareness, visit

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Lahad Datu school disinfects classes

Sunday, March 15th, 2020

The teachers disinfecting school equipment to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

LAHAD DATU: The SK Lahad Datu 2 here took the initiative to disinfect the school equipment including desk and chairs to prevent the spread of Covid-19 in their school.

Its headmistress, Myna Relay said the initiative covered 24 classes in the school for both session as well as four pre-school rooms.

Myna said all teachers involved in the activities which initiated by the school using their own fund.

“This is phase one, during this phase, we disinfect the classes and equipments once a day, do health screening test on the students also reminds the students to frequently wash their hands.

“Phase two will be launched after the school break and will be conducted in accordance with current situation,” she said, adding that the initiative would be carried out as needed.

Myna also added that the school was also constantly monitoring and responding to orders issued by the District Education Office such as instruction to close the school if a student or staff was suspected of Covid-19 infection.

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‘Buy suitable car seats for your kids’

Monday, December 30th, 2019

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) has advised parents to purchase suitable child car seats or child restraint systems (CRS) for their children, as a ruling for the use of these seats begins in January.

Miros director general Dr Siti Zaharah Ishak said that a suitable CRS corresponded to the height and weight of the child.

“The seat can reduce the risk of injury or being thrown out of the car or hitting the hard object in the car during harsh braking or collision, ” she told The Star.

According to guidelines by Miros, every child below the height of 135cm (or approximately below 12 years old) should use the CRS.

Malaysia has adopted the United Nations R44 or R129 Standards for CRS.

The guidelines specify four different types of seats – from birth up to 13kg (up to a height of 83cm, approx 0 to 18 months), 9-18kg (71cm and above, approx 15 months to four years), 15–25kg (100cm and above, approx four to seven years) and 22-36kg (up to 135cm, approx six to 12 years).

Dr Siti said that correctly installed CRS may help to reduce the risk of death by 71% for infants and by 54% for children aged one to four years old and reducing the need for hospitalisation by 69% for children aged 4 years old and below.

“Seat belts are a proven intervention to reduce the risk of fatalities during road accidents for adults. However, it is not designed to protect a child, ” she said.

Based on recent observation during Ops Hari Raya 2019, Miros found that only 33% of children were sitting in a car seat.

Checks at outlets selling these items revealed that there is a growing demand for them.

Retailer of baby and childcare products Mothercare said that they have recorded a 250% increase in sales of CRS since October, compared to the same time last year.

Another company that sells these products U-baby similarly said there was a spike in the sales of the CRS.

“We are importing more stock in anticipation of the growing demand, ” said a spokesperson of the company.

Transport Minister Anthony Loke announced that child seats will be made compulsory by 2020.

However, he has directed the Road Transport Department (JPJ) not to penalise drivers for the first six months of the new ruling.

His deputy Datuk Kamarudin Jaffar later clarified in Parliament that large families would be exempted from installing child car seats in their vehicles.

Meanwhile, the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry (KPDNHEP) will closely monitor the online sale of CRS, which are widely available, to ensure they comply with the stipulated standards.

Its minister, Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail, said KPDNHEP has the right and duty in terms of enforcement of the items to ensure that the issue of fake and unsafe goods being sold does not crop up.

“The guideline on the characteristics for child restraint seats has already been issued by the Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) this year (Nov 23), ” he said in Bukit Mertajam yesterday.

“And when the use of the CRS is enforced in 2020, we (ministry) will immediately carry out our duty, namely, to conduct enforcement in line with the conditions stipulated by Miros, namely, product safety standard and trademarks, whether false or genuine.

“And if an outlet advertises (its products), we will ensure what is advertised are available on the products sold, ’’ he told reporters when asked to comment on a Malay newspaper report that mobile car seats are available for as low as RM18 to RM39.90 each via online purchase.

He said this after handing over school uniforms and other schooling items to 150 pupils from B40 families in the Kulim-Bandar Baharu Parliamentary Constituency at the Econsave Supermarket here today.

On Oct 23, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail announced that the use of CRS in private cars will be mandatory from Jan 1.

By Rashvinjeet S. Bedi.

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Child sex abuse victims experience guilt and shame

Friday, December 20th, 2019
Child sex abuse victims display more self-destructive behaviour as well as experience more suicidal tendencies. FILE PIC

A REPORT by a newspaper showing that a high percentage of child sexual abusers are close family members, such as fathers and stepfathers, is heart-wrenching.

It is even more heart-breaking when the report stated that most adults do not believe their children when they say that they have been sexually abused.

However, 98 per cent of the reported child abuse cases are true.

Children are a gift from Allah. They are worth more than wealth and material resources.

Their physical, mental, psychological and intellectual needs must be protected from harm, abuse and maltreatment.

Firm action should be taken if children are harmed and the abusers should be punished.

According to the 1999 WHO Consultation on Child Abuse Prevention, child sexual abuse is “the involvement of a child in sexual activity that he or she does not fully comprehend, is unable to give informed consent to, or for which the child is not developmentally prepared and cannot give consent, or that violates the laws or social taboos of society”.

Every country has enacted laws to safeguard children from sexual abuse, including Malaysia.

the Child Act 2001 and the Sexual Offences against Children Act 2017 are designed to protect children.

Section 31 of the Child Act stipulates that the parent or guardian of a child who sexually abuses the child or causes or otherwise permits him to be abused is committing an offence.

Upon conviction, the offender can be fined not exceeding RM50,000 or imprisoned not exceeding 20 years, or both.

The Sexual Offences Against Children Act provides certain offences and their punishment such as sexually communicating with a child (maximum three years imprisonment), child grooming (maximum five years imprisonment and whipping), meeting, following child grooming (maximum 10 years imprisonment and whipping), physical sexual assault on a child (maximum 20 years imprisonment and whipping) and non-physical assault on a child (maximum 15 years imprisonment and maximum RM20,000 fine or both).

Nevertheless, law enforcement is a cause for concern.

Laws are useless without enforcement.

This issue needs to be addressed to protect children.

Child sexual abuse leads to depression, eating disorders, somatic concerns, anxiety, helplessness, attitude problems, denial, sexual and relationship problems.

It has also been linked to psychotic disorders, including schizophrenia and delusional disorder.

Victims often experience guilt, shame and self-blame, which are also categorised as negative mental health effects.

It has been shown that they take responsibility for the abuse.

When the sexual abuse is committed by a trusted adult, it may be hard for the child to view the perpetrator in a bad light, leaving them incapable of seeing what happened as none of their fault. Victims blame and absorb negative messages about themselves.

Victims display more self-destructive behaviour as well as experience more suicidal tendencies.

Family support and strong peer relationship are important in reducing the impact.

It is important to inculcate awareness in family members to believe a child’s complaint and to act upon it through police report and investigation.

As stated in the book The Law of Domestic Violence (IIUM Press, 2019), the same duty needs to be imposed on neighbours and teachers in the event of suspicious occurrences of child abuse.

No matter how the abusers hide their evil deeds, the crime will be exposed.

However, society needs to be aware of the importance of protecting and concealing the identity of victims.


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Dangerous when wet

Sunday, December 1st, 2019

IT is reported that at least one person dies every day from drowning in Malaysia but many are still not aware of the dangers involved when doing water activities. They also do not know how to keep safe at water recreational spots.

And this is worrying authorities, as the number of drowning cases tends to rise during school and public holidays, weekends and the monsoon season.

‘’The rate of deaths due to drowning nationwide each year has been three to four times that of fire victims since 2018. Most of the drowning victims were school students and normally, the victims were not local residents of the area,” Fire and Rescue Department (JBPM) director-general Datuk Mohammad Hamdan Wahid told reporters recently.

From 2016 to 2018, JBPM recorded up to 15 spots as high-risk drowning areas nationwide, with frequency of death by drowning at more than five victims. Around 39 moderate-risk areas – involving less than five victims – were also identified.

This year the JBPM is monitoring six hot spots identified as high-risk drowning areas nationwide: five river spots in Kedah, Perak and Sabah and one waterfall in Terengganu with 14 deaths recorded due to drowning as of October.

Mohammad Hamdan added that the department is also working with local authorities to identify non-recreational water bodies with high risks such as unused mining pools, drainage ditches and runoff areas.

Often these unsupervised and unsecured areas are enticing as play areas for children and youths. However, these spots can pose potential dangers such as steep drop-offs, entrapment hazards and strong currents, even for those who know how to swim.

JBPM advised parents to talk to their children about the dangers, especially during the monsoon season.

“Don’t let your children go off alone without adult supervision. And report to local authorities of any potential water hazard in your neighbourhood,” said Mohammad Hamdan.

Another measure the JBPM is considering is stopping all water activities during the monsoon season, especially in high-risk areas.

Said Mohammad Hamdan, this measure, which has been adopted in Terengganu – to halt all activities on its resort islands during the monsoon season – has been effective in preventing and reducing drowning and other water accidents.

Ultimately, however, the public needs to be vigilant and take the necessary measures to keep safe in the water, he cautioned.

“Every school holidays, like now, many parents will take their family and children on water outings and to do various water activities. It is important that they keep safe when their children are around and in water.

Here are some basic water safety steps that you can take when going on a water outing:

1 Supervision is rule watch your kids.

According to WHO, one to four year olds are at the most risk to drown in a pool or accidentally fall into water without the proper survival skills.

2 Look for natural warning signs in your surroundings

Use your common sense! Understand the risks at the water spot. Know your and your family’s ability to cope with them.

3 Always swim in recognised and safe swimming locations. Don’t do any water activities in “strange” or “new” waters you are not familiar with. Designated swimming areas are usually cleared of underwater hazards and have lifeguards on duty.

4 Observe the posted signs in the area Signs warn of dangers and give information on the area including the prohibited activities there.

5 Know your family’s swimming ability

Just because you know how to swim doesn’t mean you can’t drown, say experts.

Swimmers’ false sense of security can push them to take risks in the water, like swimming alone. This is also why would-be-rescuers often become drown victims themselves.

6 Check the weather and water conditions

Don’t have any water activities in bad weather and when the tide is rising or receding.

If a storm or rain is forecast, it’s best to make other plans.

7 Wear suitable clothing Use a life jacket and float if required.

8 Don’t get into the water to rescue a drowning victim if you have no water rescuing skills Learn safe ways of rescuing others without putting yourself in danger.

The different strokes

Swimming in an open body of water (like a river or ocean) is different from swimming in a pool. But both have their risks and basic safety measures should be taken:

At a swimming pools and water-theme parks

  • Spot the lifeguardl Designate a Water Watcher

Assign a parent or adult in your group to be in-reach at all times of the children in the pool.

  • Avoid distractions

No phone, no reading, no sleeping, no chatting. Your eyes should only be on the water. Use your phone only if you need to call 999.

  • Look out for pool drains

With its strong suction pressure, pool drains can trap swimmers underwater and cause them to drown.

At waterfalls

  • Observe the posted signs
  • Don’t swim under powerful waterfalls
  • Look out for slippery rocks
  • Get out of the water in heavy rain At rivers
  • Never swim alone
  • Check the water speed

Try this test: Throw a short log into the water, if it’s pulled under or swept quickly downstream, don’t swim!

  • Know the weather upstream

Rain upstream, especially at the headwater, can cause a strong water surge.

  • Check for crocodiles

At beaches

  • Look out for warning flags
  • Avoid any water activities in bad weather
  • Obey the danger sirens and warning announcements
  • Get out of the water if the water suddenly recedes drastically

At lakes and ponds

  • Use a life jacket and float if required
  • Avoid weedy areas

A weed forest can entangle a swimmer’s legs.

  • Check for algae

Algae can cause skin rash, eye irritation, bacterial infection.

  • Scout out the extent of the shallow water, set clear boundaries Lakes are usually very deep.

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Schools urged to seriously ensure students’ safety

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Schools have been urged to take greater actions to ensure students’ safety in the school compound.

Following the rape case in Tawau involving seven SPM students, Sabah Education Director Dr Mistirine Radin said the 14-year-old victim is currently undergoing counselling sessions.

She said the department has yet to finalise further actions to be taken upon the students.

“This is shocking and devastating, especially since it happened in the school compound…students are supposed to be safe in school.

“Although it is SPM season now, other students are still scheduled to come to school,” she said after the Orang Asli and Indigenous Adult Class (KEDAP) 2019 certificate presentation ceremony here on Tuesday.

On Friday, a Form Two student was found half nude by a female teacher in a switch room of a school in Tawau.

She claimed that two boys had raped her, four forced her to perform oral sex on them, while another boy watched the incident.

The suspects had since been remanded for three days before allowed police bail to enable them sit for their SPM examination.

On the KEDAP programme, Mistirine said it was aimed at raising literacy among indigenous people.

She said it would not only motivate their children to obtain knowledge but also equip themselves with basic skills of reading, writing, and calculating.

“The department will be sure to provide various support and services to schools and students which is translated through our efforts to improve the quality of our services.

“The department will also continue to strengthen its delivery system which includes a restructuring in the department and district education offices,” she said.

The ceremony saw 265 participants graduating from 14 schools in 12 districts namely Beluran, Keningau, Kota Belud, Kudat, Lahad Datu, Pitas, Ranau, Sandakan, Semporna, Tawau, Tongod, and Tenom.

By DK Ryni Qareena.

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