Archive for June, 2018

Ministry guidelines to ease load on heavy schoolbags.

Friday, June 29th, 2018
Further studies: Dr Maszlee (second from right) with students who received offers to the 2018/2019 matriculation programme after the press conference at the Education Ministry. — Bernama

Further studies: Dr Maszlee (second from right) with students who received offers to the 2018/2019 matriculation programme after the press conference at the Education Ministry. — Bernama

PUTRAJAYA: By next year, schools will need to adhere to the Education Ministry’s guidelines that will tackle the problem of heavy schoolbags, especially those carried by children in primary schools, says minister Dr Maszlee Malik.

He said from 2019, schools would have to follow a ministry circular on the matter.

According to the guidelines, teachers will need to stick to their lesson plans and give clear instructions to their pupils on what to bring for their classes.

“Schools must also have only three to four subjects per day.

“All teaching and learning activities must be completed within class hours,” he told reporters yesterday.

Dr Maszlee said the guidelines were created after a study last year.

It revealed that only 28% of the bags’ weight is due to the required textbooks and workbooks.

The rest is due to stationery, additional workbooks, co-curriculum attire, food and drinks, gadgets and toys, he added.

Last year, the then deputy education minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon warned that action would be taken against schools that did not comply with a ministry circular in 2000 regarding the usage of workbooks in primary schools, which ordered a reduction in pupils’ exercise books.

On a separate matter, Dr Maszlee said an additional 1,000 places in the matriculation programme have been created for Chinese students in the B40 group.

B40 refers to the bottom 40% of households with a monthly income of RM3,900 and below.

“Although we try to ensure all deserving students get a place in the matriculation programme, I acknowledge that there are complaints from non-bumiputra students of not getting a place in the programme,” he said before handing out offer letters to matriculation students.

The decision to provide these additional seats, which do not affect the current seat numbers in the programme, was decided at the Cabinet meeting on May 30.

“There were 4,068 non-bumiputra students offered places at the matriculation colleges for the 2018/2019 intake,” he said.

The additional 700 spaces allocated for Indian students by the previous government remain, he added.

On another matter, Dr Maszlee said that all Chinese schools would be asked to stop holding paid computer classes during school hours.

“Paid computer classes can still be conducted as part of co-curriculum activities outside school hours and on a voluntary basis.”

By Rebecca Rajaendram.

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Long and short of digital revolution

Friday, June 29th, 2018
Digitalisation requires devising smart policies to maximise the benefits. FILE PIc.

DIGITAL platforms are recasting the relationships between customers, workers and employers as the silicon chip’s reach permeates almost everything we do — from buying groceries online to finding a partner on a dating website.

As computing power improves dramatically, and more and more people around the world participate in the digital economy, we should think carefully about how to devise policies that will allow us to fully exploit the digital revolution’s benefits while minimising job dislocation.

This digital transformation results from what economists who study scientific progress and technical change call a general-purpose technology — that is, one that has the power to continually transform itself, progressively branching out and boosting productivity across all sectors and industries.

Such transformations are rare. Only three previous technologies earned this distinction: the steam engine, the electricity generator, and the printing press. These changes bring enormous long-term benefits.

The steam engine, originally designed to pump water out of mines, gave rise to railroads and industry through the application of mechanical power. Benefits accrued as farmers and merchants delivered their goods from the interior of a country to the coasts, facilitating trade.

By their very nature, general-purpose technological revolutions are also highly disruptive. The Luddites of the early 19th century resisted and tried to destroy machines that rendered their weaving skills obsolete, even though the machines ushered in new skills and jobs. Such disruption occurs precisely because the new technology is so flexible and pervasive.

Consequently, many benefits come not simply from adopting the technology, but from adapting to the technology. The advent of electricity generation enabled power to be delivered precisely when and where needed, vastly improving manufacturing efficiency and paving the way for the modern production line. In the same vein, Uber is a taxi company using digital technology to deliver a better service.

An important component of a disruptive technology is that it must first be widely adopted before society adapts to it. Electricity delivery depended on generators. The current technological revolution depends on computers, the technical backbone of the Internet, search engines, and digital platforms.

Because of the lags involved in adapting to new processes, such as replacing traditional printing with online publishing, it takes time before output growth accelerates. In the early stages of such revolutions, more and more resources are devoted to innovation and reorganisation whose benefits are realised only much later.

Perhaps it is no wonder that the digital revolution doesn’t show up in the productivity statistics quite yet — after all, the personal computer emerged only about 40 years ago.

But make no mistake — the digital revolution is well under way. In addition to transforming jobs and skills, it is also overhauling industries such as retailing and publishing and perhaps — in the not-too-distant future — trucking and banking.

Looking forward, we may see even more disruption from breakthroughs in quantum computing, which would facilitate calculations that are beyond the capabilities of traditional computers. While enabling exciting new products, these computers could undo even some new technologies.

Digitalisation will also transform people’s jobs. The jobs of up to one-third of the US workforce, or about 50 million people, could be transformed by 2020, according to a report published last year by the McKinsey Global Institute.

The study also estimates that about half of all paid activities could be automated using existing robotics and artificial and machine learning technologies. For example, computers are learning not just to drive taxis but also to check for signs of cancer, a task currently performed by relatively well-paid radiologists.

While views vary, it is clear that there will be major potential job losses and transformations across all sectors and salary levels, including groups previously considered safe from automation.

But economic disruption and uncertainty can fuel social anxiety about the future, with political consequences. Current fears about job automation parallel John Maynard Keynes’s worries in 1930 about increasing technological unemployment. We know, of course, that humanity eventually adapted to using steam power and electricity, and chances are we will do so again with the digital revolution

The answer lies not in denial but in devising smart policies that maximise the benefits of the new technology while minimising the inevitable short-term disruptions. The key is to focus on policies that respond to the organisational changes driven by the digital revolution.

Electrification of US industry in the early 20th century benefited from a flexible educational system that gave people entering the labour force the skills needed to switch from farm work as well as training opportunities for existing workers to develop new skills.

In the same way, education and training should give today’s workers the wherewithal to thrive in a new economy in which repetitive cognitive tasks — from driving a truck to analysing a medical scan — are replaced by new skills such as web engineering and protecting cyber security. More generally, future jobs will probably emphasise human empathy and originality: the professionals deemed least likely to become obsolete include nursery school teachers, clergy and artists.

One clear difference between the digital revolution and the steam and electricity revolutions is the speed at which the technology is diffused across countries. While Germany and the United Kingdom followed the US take-up of electricity relatively quickly, the pace of diffusion across the globe was relatively slow

The revolution will clearly affect economies that are financial hubs, such as Singapore and Hong Kong, differently than, for example, specialised oil producers such as Kuwait, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia. Equally, the response to automated production technologies will reflect possibly different societal views on employment protection.

Where preferences diverge, international cooperation will likely involve swapping experiences of which policies work best. Similar considerations apply to the policy response to rising inequality, which will probably continue to accompany the gradual discovery of the best way to organise firms around the new technology.

Education and competition policy will also need to be
adapted. Schools and universities should provide coming
generations with the skills they need to work in the emerging economy. But societies also will need to put a premium on retraining workers whose skills have been degraded.

Similarly, the reorganisation of production puts new strains on competition policy to ensure that new techniques do not become the province of a few firms that come first in a winner-take-all lottery.

In a sign that this is what is already happening, Oxfam International recently reported that eight individuals held more assets than the poorest 3.6 billion combined.

Given the global reach of digital technology, and the risk of a race to the bottom, there is a need for policy cooperation similar to that of global financial markets and sea and air traffic.

In the digital arena, such cooperation could include regulating the treatment of personal data, which is hard to oversee in a country-specific way, given the international nature of the Internet, as well as intangible assets, whose amorphous nature and location can complicate the taxation of digital companies.


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Shafie: Students should be encouraged to raise BM competency

Friday, June 29th, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: Students should be encouraged to raise their competency in the national language (Bahasa Melayu) by participation in extra-curricular activities and competitions using the language.

Such competitions include poetry recitation, Scrabble and youth forum, said Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal.

He said such competitions helps enhance the students’ command of the language, and also generate awareness in them about the importance of learning and promoting it.

“Regardless of race and background we must always try to elevate our command of our national language, and raise awareness among our children of the importance of the national language in the development of our country,” he said in his speech at the closing of the poetry recitation competition at the INTAN Sabah campus yesterday.

His speech was delivered by the Assistant Minister of Education and Innovation, Mohammad Mohamarin.

About 200 students and 120 teachers from 24 districts in Sabah participated in the competition which was held June 25-28.

The competition was jointly organised by Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka Sabah (the language and literary board), State Education Department, Sabah Youth and Sports Ministry, and Institut Tadbiran Awam Negara (INTAN) Sabah. Shafie stressed that the youths are an important asset of the country, and will inherit its leadership.

“We must nurture them with education and responsibility that will steer and preserve our nation.” The Chief Minister said extra-curricular activities are healthy avenues through which youths can find their identities and direct their energies in creative ways.


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Simplicity matters in life, and financial reporting

Thursday, June 28th, 2018
New and revised financial reporting standards are rolled out to reflect the new realities of the economy.

THE digital economy creates an efficient financial governance medium and our financial reporting should reflect that.

This should cover the entire reporting process, from data capture through analysis to data presentation.

New and revised standards are rolled out to reflect the new and complex realities of the economy and the business world.

Examples are the financial reporting standards of Malaysian Financial Reporting Standards (MFRS) 9: Financial Instruments (effective Jan 1 this year), MFRS 15: Revenue from Contracts with Customers (effective Jan 1 this year) and MFRS 16: Leases
(to take effect on Jan 1 next year)

However, to ensure better governance, measures need to be taken to carry out the above standards.

The Malaysian Institute of Accountants said a focus on organisations’ core businesses is needed to ensure that systems and processes are in place.

Secondly, stakeholders in organisations should be committed to the change process of the business transformation.

Knowledge, skills and attitudes of stakeholders should be matched with organisations’ vision and mission.

Thirdly, embracing information technology as much as possible will expedite the implementation process.

Finally, accountants must improve their financial reporting skills to give effect to the intent of the new standards of financial reporting.

Users’ feedback that MFRS is complex and difficult to be understood must be dealt with.

It is more important to provide clear, simple, useful but actionable financial reporting information for decisions to be made.

By Assoc Prof Dr Saunah Zainon.

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Qualities of a credible chief secretary

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
Speculation is rife as to who will succeed Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa. PIC BY MUHD ZAABA ZAKERI

WITH the impending retirement of Tan Sri Dr Ali Hamsa, speculation is rife as to who will succeed him.

The choice of a successor will depend, among other things, on the suitability of the candidate in discharging the onerous role and responsibilities of the high office of the chief secretary to the government, or KSN, the Malay acronym.

The post is a much coveted one. Most senior public servants aspire to it not only for the prestige and monetary rewards it bestows on the office bearer. The position also offers a golden opportunity to an incumbent to spearhead substantive improvements to public services and thereby leave behind a lasting legacy. It is also the apogee of an illustrious public-service career.

The KSN’s role is a crucial one as it straddles the political-administrative divide. Akin to a tight-rope walker, the post requires a delicate balancing act between political impartiality and alliance with the political executive. In serving the political executive, the KSN should not be seen compromising the integrity and political neutrality of the public service. The post should not be so politicised that the KSN is seen to be partisan to the incumbent prime minister. Otherwise he may be unwelcome or unacceptable to the optics of an incoming government.

As the highest-ranking officer of the public service, the KSN wears many hats. As cabinet secretary, he is the lynchpin between the political executive and the public service. He is the principal channel of communication between the two institutions. In that capacity, he plays a significant role in ensuring that public administration is aligned to the strategic goals of the executive while the latter is made cognisant of the administrative capacity in delivering the government agenda.

As cabinet secretary, the KSN advises the cabinet on draft policies and decisions, especially of their administrative implications and viability. His administrative knowledge and experience carry much heft. These qualities not only help the KSN facilitate cabinet decision-making, they may even influence policy choices.

Upon cabinet approval, the KSN wears the hat of an implementer. He marshals the public service for executing those decisions. And, in the course of execution, he reports progress to the cabinet.

To discharge his functions as cabinet secretary effectively, the KSN helms the prime minister’s department — the biggest ministry in the public service. The prime minister’s department not only serves the office of the prime minister and the cabinet, but also oversees the administration of the public service.

Regular meetings with ministry heads enables the KSN to ensure smooth coordination across the administrative machinery. The forum also offers him a good opportunity to resolve inter-ministry disputes.

It behoves, therefore, that the KSN has a well-oiled administrative machinery where the best talents lead ministries and departments. As such, he oversees appointments, transfers and promotion of senior officers. As its leader, the KSN keeps afloat the discipline, motivation and morale of the public service while charting its strategic direction. He also has the demanding remit of making the public service tech-savvy, customer-centric and future-ready.

Given the considerable responsibility in managing the affairs of the state, it is important therefore that Ali’s successor is made with great care. If past appointments are an indication, the appointee will probably be one from among the department heads. He will have risen through the ranks of the public service, especially that of the administrative and diplomatic service — the elite service that runs the country’s public administration. He will have worked his way across the bureaucracy. Therefore, he will be knowledgeable of its rules, regulations and processes. He will have the institutional knowledge to be conversant with the public service culture. He will therefore be in good stead to effect a renaissance in public management that is expected by the new government.

He need not be the most senior person by service. Suffice that he is selected on merit while being senior enough to possess integrity, outstanding ability and vast experience. These qualities are essential if he is to command the respect and confidence of not only the prime minister, but also the cabinet, and service heads of all other public services.

That respect and confidence are also premised on the knowledge that the appointee shares the political executive’s vision for the nation, will advise without fear or favour, and deliver the outcomes expected from public policies.

This laundry list of the qualities required of a good KSN might seem like a tall order. But, given the demands of the job, these are the criteria that should invariably be employed in selecting the right candidate.


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Plan to reduce monopolies?

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
Smuggled rice seized from a godown in Kampung Gelang Gasi, Tumpat, Kelantan. The monopoly of rice imports has encouraged rice smuggling along the border from Thailand into Malaysia. (FILE PIC)

THE change in the government of the nation through a peaceful democratic process is a sign of political maturity of our country. No doubt our country is a young democracy, the change is, nevertheless, a very prominent one.

It brings new hopes and aspirations, not only among the younger generation, but also, among the senior ones who want changes at how things have been done all these years. Many things have just been taken for granted, yet the fundamentals on the ground could have changed. Indeed, the signals were there two elections ago.

I read with interest the recent news in the local press that the new government may want to review the several monopolies now being practiced in the country. This is heartening as it is very much in line with further economic modernisation of the economy.

Understanding the market structures of a country is critical in formulating public policies which aim to address competition, productivity, and sharing in the economic pie of the economy and equally pertinent in efforts to bring about semblance of price stability. It may not be wrong to make a little assertion here that our policy makers and related institutions may know but a little of this subject matter given that economic regulation is not often taught in many tertiary institutions. Thus, many do not appreciate its relevance in managing the economy.

At some stages of economic development, monopolies may be allowed and even justified especially in utilities, such as the provision of energy, water and telecommunication, thus, words such as public monopolies are abound in economics textbooks. Over the years the economics of these industries have changed and their supplies can be unbundled for greater competition.

Indeed, the privatisation of several of these industries once considered public monopolies is an example in point. It is just that we embarked on the initiative when our economic regulatory environment was at its infancy. However, now we have policies and laws on competition and anti-profiteering to govern the market place. The laws should give some assurance that the consumer welfare is somewhat protected.

Economic regulation and governance remain an essential perspective to be understood by our legislators, policy makers, senior officials especially, so as to achieve an equitable balance between the differing needs of the industry, the government and the consumers at large. The civil servants thinking that they know the market best is not relevant anymore.

With privatisation, we have allowed monopolies in several areas such as rice imports, broadcasting by using satellite, medicinal supplies for public hospitals and vehicle testing. The initial aim is to promote entrepreneurship, which may be acceptable. Many of these exceeded their first concessions and have been renewed, thereby buttressing monopolistic competition in the country.

If a service needs to hide behind a monopoly to stay viable then extending the concession is no assurance or guarantee that the service will become viable. Meanwhile, consumer welfare is deprived of better quality and lower price and income got further concentrated.

A case in point, the monopoly of rice imports raises domestic rice prices while encouraging rice smuggling along the border, from Thailand into Malaysia. There is so much gain to be made from such illegal activities because of the big differential between international and domestic prices. Consequently, the issue is seen as a security matter and police officers are being mobilised along the border to curb smuggling. This is inefficient.

The new government should examine this concern as a matter of importance as we move forward to a more market-driven economy where market forces determine the return on investments. Hence, the element of competition should be part and parcel of the efforts to enhance competitiveness, productivity, and innovation among our economic players. If shielded from competition the industries move to complacency mode and the nation’s competitiveness may be compromised sooner or later

Be that as it may, a medium term plan may be needed to gradually reduce the role of monopolies in the economy, having regard for the contractual obligation of the government in the event the concessions are terminated or reviewed. Also, we need to examine the cost of adjustments for such regulatory changes.

Let us make some ground rules to allow monopolies more acceptable in our society, and these may include the following suggestions:

MONOPOLIES must be given based on consideration such as security and intellectual property;

THEY be given for only 15 years and no further extension;

THEY be asked to do corporate social responsibility (on education, environment, etc);

CONSUMER welfare must not be compromised; and,

AWARDS for monopoly be given based on competition.

Our economy has reached a stage beyond just capacity building, physical developments of superstructures, and human capital for basic skills and primary production. We are quite ready even for more sophisticated policy making and management skills if given the chance.

Additionally, we must develop social and economic institutions that would help put in place good economic governance based on competition and innovations as well as backed up by a healthy economic regulatory environment to nurture genuine entrepreneurship especially among the Bumiputera community.

By Tan Sri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob.

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Punish those with bad driving habits

Tuesday, June 26th, 2018
Tourist buses parked haphazardly at Dataran Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur. FILE PIC

MAY 9 marked a turning point for Malaysia as it signalled a new beginning for the country, which was ruled by a single party for 60 years.

But, seriously, have there been great changes? Does the country deserve the moniker New Malaysia? Or, is it still a nation of fossilised bad habits?

I would argue that our country is, sadly, an example of the latter

Consider our taxi drivers — be it blue, red or yellow — they are all the same, with an extremely small exception.

They drive recklessly and blatantly beat the traffic lights in full view of police officers. The enforcement officers helplessly look on as if they are conquered by national lethargy. Of course, it is not true of all officers, but the exception is, well, exception.

The Petronas Twin Towers area is a prime example of a place that you will see all types of motorists breaking traffic laws in the book. They park at traffic lights as they please, even blocking the entrance to the parking lot.

Cars, buses and taxis are parked on both sides of the road, causing traffic jam, day and night.

We seem to show the world that we are a lawless country.

Forgive me for saying this: this will never happen in Singapore. Because, they mean business. We are just ambling into lackadaisical lethargy. There seems to be no national will, both at the individual and government level.

Are these taxi drivers and bus drivers so powerful that the authorities cannot do anything?

These are signs of a lawless Third World country.

The only way to rid of such taxi drivers and bus operators is to jail them and confiscate their vehicles.

Harsh misbehaviour requires harsh punishment

The situation gets worse when the government has an event at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre.

The drivers of ministers and senior civil servants park their cars as they please, causing massive congestion and inconvenience to the people. This must stop if we want to see a New Malaysia.

Amplify this errant behaviour nationwide and you will see the problem becoming a national culture.

Fire engines can’t get to the scene of a fire because vehicles are blocking the entrance. Lives are lost unnecessarily. Ambulances can’t reach those who require urgent medical attention.

Balraj Khanna, a long-time resident artist in London, in his A Nation of Fools, describes the terrible behaviour of some people in India.

I may sound harsh, but he would not be wrong if he said he was describing the behaviour of some Malaysians.

By A.M.K.S.

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Asia’s largest student event is in August.

Monday, June 25th, 2018

THE largest annual student event in Asia is coming to Kuala Lumpur this August. It is courtesy of the Harvard Project for Asian and International Relations (HPAIR).

A non-profit organisation under the Harvard University Faculty of Arts and Sciences, HPAIR is enabling international and local students; and eminent individuals in the fields of academia, business and government, to meet at Sunway University beginning Aug 16.

Since 1991, HPAIR has organised 54 conferences in 12 different host countries, touching the lives of more than 32,000 students and young professionals.

With a five-day academic programme focused on the theme, “Sustainable Disruption”, the estimated 600 delegates from more than 83 countries are expected to take part in the track specific panel discussions and seminars found within the six-track options available.

Having played host in 1998 and 2008, the current 18 organising team members of HPAIR in Malaysia are working hard to create an atmosphere of engaging discussions for all who attend this conference.

Highlights include pre-conference tours, an opening ceremony and a reception, which will take place at Carcosa Seri Negara.

The Malaysia Night to be held at Sunway Lagoon Surf Beach on Day Two is a beach party organised to help the delegates meet new people and experience a taste of Malaysia in a relaxed and casual manner.

HPAIRx takes on a TED-style talk on Day Three with talks designed to inspire delegates to learn from the topics covered.

A classic HPAIR event, the International Night on Day Three, is going to be an evening to remember as the delegates will celebrate the cultures and talents of all those attending the HPAIR.

The highlights include the booth displays featuring food, craft and cultural items of the talented delegates’ countries to the international performances.

As HPAIR 2018 goes into Day Four, the delegates are expected to participate in the Impact Challenge work sessions and present the wealth of learning acquired.

On the last day of HPAIR 2018 on Aug 20, the delegates are given the opportunity to participate in track panels, go for sponsored field trips at selected organisations and be part of the lively conversations that will culminate in a networking dinner with sharing, discussions and reflections picked up during the HPAIR conference.
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No more TAED: City Hall to retake possession of Tg Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park

Monday, June 25th, 2018

Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park to be retained and upgraded.

KOTA KINABALU: The land title for the Tanjung Aru Eco Development (TAED) project will be transferred back to the Kota Kinabalu City Hall (DBKK) for new upgrading works for Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park, said Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Junz Wong.

As far as he is concerned, Junz said there would be “no more TAED”.

The 345-hectare TAED project has currently been put on hold by City Hall pending a directive from the new State Government.

Junz said the Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park would be retained and upgraded and will remain as an open space for the good of the public.

He said the State Cabinet would discuss about TAED as soon as possible, adding that the project would be put on hold until further announcement.

As the Tanjung Aru assemblyman, Junz said his stand on TAED is firm and clear since his time in the opposition and has remained firm till now.

“That is to ensure that the TAED will not go on and to make 101 percent sure that the natural beauty of Tanjung Aru Beach is retained.”

Meanwhile, Mayor Datuk Yeo Boon Hai said City Hall had cleaned up Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park within five days upon obtaining the green light from the State Government.

He said both the beach and the park had been left neglected for a year which resulted in clogged drains and uncut grass.

“The situation has improved significantly after cleaning up work by City Hall,” he said.

He said City Hall would continue to monitor the cleanliness at the beach and park for tourists and locals to enjoy the natural beauty of Tanjung Aru Beach.

Yeo revealed that Tanjung Aru Eco Development Sdn Bhd had taken over the Tanjung Aru Beach and Prince Philip Park a year ago for the TAED project. During that period, all the hawkers’ stalls had been moved to Tanjung Lipat to make way for the buildings at Tanjung Aru Beach to be demolished. After the election, the TAED project was put on hold until further notice.

He said City Hall returned to clean up the beach on June 17 following the instruction from the Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, Christina Liew.

by Chok Sim Yee.

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We must keep our schools’ washrooms clean and safe

Monday, June 25th, 2018
(File pix) The Education Ministry must not only overcome the problem of heavy bags, but must also look into the problem of dirty washrooms in schools. Pix by Ghazali Kori

“ATUK, ada doa tahan kencing tak?”, (“Grandpa, is there a prayer to hold my urine?”).

This was asked by my 7-year-old grandchild when I picked him up from school.

While it is great to know that the Education Ministry is trying to overcome the problem of heavy bags, it must also look into the problem of dirty washrooms in schools. This is a common problem. Parents, not just the schools, have a role to play.

Schoolchildren are holding back their urine and their bowel movements due to unhygienic washrooms.

Children stop drinking or eating during school hours to avoid using the washroom.

It is an unhealthy practice which leads to dehydration and constipation. This agonising situation will have a damaging effect, especially on afternoon-session pupils.

In terms of concentration and the ability to understand the lessons being taught, it is important to ensure maximum absorption without being hindered by these symptoms.

Parents have to educate their children on how to use washrooms properly. Good hygiene practices begin at home. Parents must set a good example.

However, I have witnessed many parents setting a bad example in front of their children.

Some eat without first washing their hands, some pick their noses in public and later touch the food, sneeze and cough without covering their mouth with a handkerchief.

Some mothers would just place the milk bottle back into the baby’s mouth after it had fallen down and made a few rolls.

Are we unhygienic in nature?

If yes, then transformation is the need of the hour. Parents must be particular about being clean and they must enforce discipline over their children on personal cleanliness and hygiene. This will prevent infections and diseases.

At school, the responsibility to provide a clean washroom with the basic essentials belongs to the school management. How can the management not notice how dirty the washrooms are when one can smell the foul stench when he walks by?

The management must ensure proper cleaning is done at least twice a day.

Another problem that some schools face is vandalism. To overcome this, the disciplinary system in schools should be therapeutic in nature.


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