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School CP - July 2000
New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur, 6 July 2000
Teachers will not be allowed to cane
By Chok Suat Ling
KUALA LUMPUR, Wed. -- The power of headmasters to cane students will not be extended to all teachers, but the teaching profession is to undergo "special courses" to help curb student indiscipline.
The courses will be designed to help teachers communicate effectively with students, teaching them to handle "extreme" situations.
Education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Abdul Shukor Abdullah, in describing rising cases of student indiscipline as a societal problem, said the authority teachers have now was sufficient.
"What they need to learn is how to talk to students, and how to handle their problems. Students now are different as times have changed... teachers need to know how to handle students in these times."
He said teaching courses needed to be re-formulated as "children now are different".
Abdul Shukor said caning was not the answer to student misbehaviour. "Instead, teachers must be taught to use their intelligence in handling students. There is the soft approach and hard approach.
"They have to know when to be strict and when not to. They have to know in different schools, different approaches are needed."
When pointed out that it might be difficult for teachers to spend quality time with their students considering the size of some classrooms, Abdul Shukor said the size of the class did not matter. "What is important is how the teacher handles his or her students."
On the reasons behind student indiscipline, he said it was because of the evolution of society.
"Children now are more exposed. There is the Internet, video games and television. Parents should know the movements and whereabouts of their children.
"When the recent case of arson was committed, it was at 2am. How was he allowed out at that time?"
Copyright © The New Straits Times Press (Malaysia) Berhad, Balai Berita 31, Jalan Riong, 59100 Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 7 July 2000
Parents must play active role in tackling indiscipline
By V.K. Chin
ENSURING discipline in schools should be the concern of everyone. It is important for the people to accept the fact that ensuring discipline is not the sole responsibility of teachers.
The role of parents can never be over-emphasised as they should shoulder the blame if their children misbehave to the extent that they become a nuisance to other pupils.
What is encouraging is that the Government and the public have recognised that indiscipline is a serious problem in schools which can lead to anti-social behaviour in later life.
There is little argument that indiscipline is not confined to schools but also exists in offices, families and even on the playing fields.
Parents cannot expect the teachers to discipline the naughty pupils on their own because they too must play a more active part.
For a start, they should not just take the word of their children when they have problems in school.
Teachers are unlikely to punish their charges for no reason and if parents of the affected pupils should behave in an aggressive manner or confront the staff concerned, things would only get worse.
Unfortunately, many parents simply have no time for their children who do not receive proper guidance at home.
Badly brought up children are more likely to be up to mischief not only in school but outside as well.
The appointment of more discipline teachers with more authority to deal with difficult pupils may be a good move but they can be effective only if their actions are backed by the school administration and the PTA.
Unless the pupil is badly hurt due to disciplinary action being taken against him, parents should be advised to bring all grievances to the PTA which can then raise the matter with the teachers.
This will reduce a lot of unpleasantness which happens when parents should confront the teachers directly. This is certainly a more civilised way of resolving such disciplinary problems.
While it is good that schools should provide more counselling, the use of the cane should be another option though some quarters may be against this form of punishment.
The rationale is that caning may leave a psychological scar on some pupils.
This may happen to those who are shy but then such children are not supposed to get into serious trouble in the first place.
Most naughty pupils are quite hardy personality-wise and there is no reason to believe that they will suffer any psychological problems if they should be given six of the best.
Parents should remember that they have a greater interest than others that their children should grow up without any hang-ups in life.
If all pupils are better disciplined, they will tend to show greater respect for law and order and therefore unlikely to indulge in criminal activities.
© 1995-2000 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd
South China Morning Post, Hong Kong, 7 July 2000
Debate rages on 'caning of pupil'By Ian Stewart in Kuala Lumpur
Education authorities are investigating an allegation by a 10-year-old Chinese girl that she was caned 35 times on both hands by her teacher because her homework was not in on time.
The case came at a time when Malaysians were debating whether more corporal punishment in schools would help cut the growing rate of "gangsterism" and was likely to provide ammunition for parents opposed to caning.
The girl's allegation also coincided with an announcement by the Director-General of Education, Abdul Shukor Abdullah, that there were no plans to change the system, under which only headmasters could cane students.
He said this power would not be extended to all teachers. However, the Education Department would introduce special courses to help teachers curb student misbehaviour and help them handle "extreme" situations.
Mr Shukor said the authority teachers had was sufficient to deal with student problems. "What they need to learn is how to talk to students and how to handle their problems," he said.
The caned girl was a Standard Four pupil at a Chinese school in Klang, west of Kuala Lumpur. According to her mother, the teacher also threatened to "chop her into little pieces of char siew [roasted pork]".
The mother said her daughter refused to return to the school and was seeking a transfer. She said she sought an explanation from the headmaster and teacher, who said she was under a lot of pressure because the girl was in a top class.
The headmaster was reported to have said that it was normal for teachers to punish pupils if they did not do their homework.
The girl reported the incident to police and a senior officer said the teacher had given a statement.
The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 11 July 2000
Police: Caning won't solve disciplinary problems
RESORTING to caning in schools as suggested by many will not necessarily solve disciplinary problems among children, according to KL police chief Datuk Kamarudin Ali.
The use of the cane would result in negative consequences such as the burning of schools by students angry over corporal punishment meted out to them, he said.
"Police investigations into cases of theft, damage to school property and the burning of schools showed such actions represent students' retaliation against the school authorities," he said.
"One must weigh the consequences before resorting to the cane as it may have negative effects," he told reporters after attending celebrations marking the first anniversary of the formation of Crime Prevention Clubs in schools in the Brickfields District in Kuala Lumpur.
In this modern age, school managements should opt for counselling -- understanding the problems students face and trying to overcome them, he said.
Kamarudin said police were ready to help schools organise talks and anti-crime exhibitions as well as study tours to police stations.
On the fire at the teachers room of the SM Taman Tun Dr Ismail on June 24, Kamarudin said five students who could be responsible for the incident had been identified.
He said investigations were still in progress.
Copyright 1995-2000, Star Publications (Malaysia) Berhad. 10894-D.
The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 16 July 2000
Punishment is effective, show research findings
By Simrit Kaur
SET limits, don't be afraid to punish errant students -- these are some of the findings, in a nutshell, of several studies conducted on discipline-related issues in school. They indicate that students should be punished without fear or favour if indiscipline is to be kept in check. Parameters must be set on acceptable behaviour so that schoolchildren know what they can do and what they can't get away with.
While schools used to be synonymous with discipline and obeying rules, the same cannot be said today.
Press reports over the years have highlighted how sophisticated and frequent acts of delinquency have become. Vandalism, truancy, fighting, stealing, and arson are just some of the unacceptable behaviours being exhibited by Malaysian students, even at primary school level.
Firm in punishment
While schools in general are suffering from an image problem, thanks to serious crimes like the stabbing of a seven-year-old in an extortion bid by two school boys, a study by Abdullah Hassan on Discipline Violations in Two Secondary Schools in the Federal Territory (1999) showed that students and teachers viewed discipline violations as "under control and not that serious".
Abdullah found that the successful formula in curbing indiscipline was by being firm in imposing punishment without fear or favour. Any transgressions committed should be reported without harbouring the guilty party.
Auxiliary powers to discipline teachers should be expedited and provisions in the 1947 Juvenile Courts Act (1947) which had a section revised in 1972.
The Act states that the court may order parents to execute a bond upon their child being found guilty, in effect making parents responsible for their child's actions.
The two schools were selected for the study because they had a high incidence of truancy and student expulsion.
Based on a survey sample of 220 students, Abdullah found that 17.5% of them were repeat offenders while 70% had violated rules but had never been caught.
Of the remaining 30% that had been caught, 12.5% were caned, 10% had their names noted down in the discipline book while 2.5% each had been let off with a warning, been given advice or had their guardian called to school.
The three most common offences committed by students were coming to school late, playing truant and leaving school/class without permission.
Among the reasons given by students for coming late included getting up late, the bus was late, no bus, traffic jam, did it deliberately, lazy, slept late, and no interest in studies.
Those who played truant cited these reasons: lazy to wake up, didn't finish schoolwork, found school boring, health problems, teachers practised favouritism, found the teacher boring, and weren't interested in certain subjects.
Too comfortable for good
According to another study, the school ethos plays an important role in moulding disciplined students.
Wong Chong Peng's research on School Ecology and its Contribution Towards Student Indiscipline (1993) showed that a number of undesirable behaviours were predisposed by factors in the school environment.
They included the processes and procedures within the school, the quality of teaching and the curriculum.
Wong's study, which was carried out in an all-boys secondary school in Negri Sembilan, painted a worrying picture of what can happen when the school becomes too comfortable and accommodating to students' bad behaviour.
The school administration did not believe in corporal punishment. Nor did it practise sending students out of the class. It did not have a detention class either. Students who misbehaved were given a pep talk by the principal or told to pick up rubbish -- providing them a good excuse to leave class.
A school needs to have a clear code of behaviour and set of values to guide it. Students need structure in terms of a clear set of rules to follow and should be punished when they violate them.
This is especially important as many children are being spoilt by overindulgent parents who don't lay down the law at home.
Wong's study showed poor attendance records, ranging from as high as 96% for Lower Six students and 64% Form Three.
One student had been absent for 90 out of 191 schooldays but teachers could also not strike out a student's name from the register from being absent, which gave the student no reason to change his behaviour.
Generally, the researcher found the discipline level of the school to be unsatisfactory and the general upkeep of the school poor.
"Some doors were missing and almost all the classroom doors could not be locked or closed properly.
"Broken desks and chairs took a long time to be replaced as the schools didn't have the funds because of its partially-aided status."
There was also poor enforcement of rules and regulations, thus students faced a conflict in deciding what was appropriate and what inappropriate.
"Because of this non-threatening and accommodating environment, there was no reason for students to change or adjust their behaviour in school."
Students who conformed were disillusioned and lost faith in the system because deviant students got away with it.
"Students prefer a system of control where rewards and sanctions are well-defined and when action is taken when a tangible violation is committed," said Wong.
Wong also classified teachers in the school into post merdeka and pre merdeka. Pre-merdeka teachers tended to be more firm with students and expected a certain mode of behaviour from them.
The younger group, however, were only intent on teaching and had a take it or leave it attitude to indiscipline such as students talking in the classroom or misbehaving.
They also tended to be friendlier and less autocratic and authoritarian compared to the older and more experienced teachers.
Although most of the studies quoted are small-scale ones and the results cannot be generalised, they do provide an insight of what is happening in schools.
The Education Ministry is on the right track by releasing a study recently on gangsterism in day schools, but a more wide-scale and in-depth study on discipline as a whole is needed before any measures are implemented.
Research done courtesy of Universiti Malaya and Universiti Putra Malaysia libraries
© 1995-2000 Star Publications (Malaysia) Bhd (Co No 10894-D)
Sarawak Tribune, Kuching, 19 July 2000
The days of the cane
Today, this question has been raised - to cane or not to cane? While the debate on the issue is raging, it is may be useful to remember the old adage - spare the rod and spoil the child.
By Gabriel Tan
Caning - as a form of corrective punishment on naughty students - was once a great deterrent. It also served as a lesson to other students not to break school rules and regulations. In the old days, it was common to see a teacher enter the classroom with a cane and textbooks under his arm. Indeed, the students paid more attention to the cane than the teacher as he marched in!
The caning of students goes way back to the days when mission schools - both Roman Catholic and Anglican or Society for the Propagation of Faith (SPG) - were first established in Kuching. Even up to the 1950s, caning was still carried out. When this form of student discipline was a sort of order of the day, there were no protests from wealthy parents or those holding high office. In fact, the students themselves were terrified of having to go through the ordeal of caning ... usually on the buttock. They even tried to hide the punishment from their parents. Parents then, I reckon, were only too pleased to know that a good dose of discipline had been meted out to their naughty offspring. During those days, parents themselves were extremely strict with their children. So discipline in school and at home had done a world of good to almost everybody.
For fighting or quarreling in school, especially during recess, those involved would be punished with six strokes of the rattan each. And if they repeated the offence, the number of strokes could be increased. Before the punishment was carried out, the offenders would be given a serious talking-to by the school principal or headmaster. This lecture alone usually had a lasting effect. Most students punished did not commit further mischief. There were some chronic repeat offenders and they usually got expelled from school. Expulsion was a severe form of punishment. There were even cases of incorrigible students who went from school to school and finally dropped out.
Many who had been caned would vouch that it was no joke and would feel embarrassed and humiliated by the punishment. The whole school would know who had been caned. And those so punished would testify to this day that it was really painful when they had to sit down!
Some students, who knew beforehand they would be shown the rattan, tried to minimise the pain with a few tricks of their own. They would put on an extra pair of pants to "absorb the shock." But the experienced principal was seldom fooled and the student would be told to remove that extra pants.
There were even cases of students trying to protect their buttock by placing an exercise book inside the back of their pants to act as a shield. The trick often failed and the book would be moved. This act of trying to lessen the pain usually ended up with an extra stroke being given. The student would be asked to let down his pants before the caning was administered.
Another form of caning in the classroom was done on an outstretched right-hand palm or both right and left. It could be five strokes on the right hand and five on the left. And the pain? Well, a student, so punished, would usually be seen grimacing even before the cane touched his hand! The marks left by the rattan either on the buttock or the palm could be clearly seen. The impressions left on the buttock could sometimes be still visible three days later.
Caning was also given if a student failed to do his homework or fared badly in arithmetic or English grammar. In those days, only three main subjects were taught in mission schools - English (including reading and grammar); arithmetic and geography.
For throwing a sweet wrapper, a student could also be given the rattan. Uttering a foul word, cheating, stealing, making vulgar signs, turning up late and telling a lie could all result in caning.
Many senior citizens could still recall the days of the cane and the teachers who did the caning. Some teachers who used the cane to exert their authority were given all sorts of nicknames by the students.
Punishment in the classroom also took other forms. One was to make a student stand in a corner or on a bench. Another involved writing 100 or 150 lines of "I shall not lie again" or "I will not steal anymore." This was a costly affair as a whole exercise book could be used up. And most parents were rather poor in the old days.
Caning was obviously well appreciated by parents then. There were no known cases of parents marching up to the school to protest or even making threats. Time has changed. Today, this question has been raised - to cane or not to cane? While the debate on this issue is raging, it is may be useful to remember the old adage - Spare the rod and spoil the child.
Copyright 1999 Sarawak Press Sdn. Bhd. All rights reserved.
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