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School CP - November 2006
Sunday Star, Kuala Lumpur, 5 November 2006
Students take charge
THE first thing that you notice when you walk into a computer lab of SMJK Dindings is the lack of grilles, bolts or chains.
The doors are flung wide open and anyone can walk in and out of the computer labs freely.
And most progressive of all is – no teacher supervision.
"I believe that people basically can be trusted and educated. But I also believe that if the punishment is hard, swift and fast when a rule is broken, people will tow the line," says SMJK Dindings principal Tiong Ting Ming.
Discipline is the rule at the school and that includes computer usage and Internet etiquette.
He says that he begins with instilling discipline in students.
"They must abide by the school rules – be on good behaviour, dress smartly, and keep the schools clean and orderly. When that is instilled, discipline in other areas comes naturally."
Tiong is not one to mince his words and his students know that.
Those who are caught visiting violent or pornographic websites are given public caning at the school's assembly.
A cyber hub by the sea
Tiong says at the end of the day it is down to the question of need.
"Students know that they will forfeit their right to use the computers if they are caught doing what they are not allowed to in the labs, so they don't try anything," he adds.
Pasted on notice boards all around the school and inside the labs, the rules are few and clear, including no sharing of password or user account and no wastage of ICT resources and no computer games.
The open policy at the humble small town school seems to work.
At Dindings, students and teachers have easy access to ICT facilities with its flexible opening hours including on weekends or during holidays.
Along with the unlimited access to the Internet, they are also provided with printing facilities. There is no limit for computer use in the school but students are expected to log off after an hour if the labs are crowded.
SMJK Dindings also has the honour of being the only non-technical secondary school offering the specialised Fundamentals of Programming subject for Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM).
The school's high-tech journey began when Tiong became its principal in 1991.
The dropout rate was high and to persuade students to stay in school, Tiong introduced ICT courses.
With initiative, enthusiasm and hard work, the semi-government school managed to equip itself with ICT facilities.
Tiong's friends in technology firms donated second-hand equipment, which he and his students repaired during their spare time.
The beginning, he admitted, was difficult with a lot of teachers and students resisting change.
After raising RM470,000 through various contributions in 1993, the school constructed its new building wired with the latest high-speed Internet connections.
Now, there are about 130 computers – in five computer labs, the library, staff room and even in the classrooms. With the expanded infrastructure, Tiong set up a team of computer prefects or cyber brigade.
They got the support of IT company Microsoft and the Education Ministry, and students are provided training to repair and maintain ICT facilities.
Duties include maintaining and upgrading the ICT facilities as well as repairing the hardware.
Form Four cyber brigadiers Yee Yin San and Ho Zi Ling say the training they received has been very useful.
"Sometimes, when our own computers break down we can repair it ourselves," says Yee.
Proud of his team of "helpers", Tiong says it all depends on how students are treated.
"I entrust them to manage and maintain the school's ICT facilities and students take charge. I don't rely on the teachers. Everything is done by the students."
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