Corpun file 19477
New Sunday Times, Kuala Lumpur, 29 July 2007
Seeking solutions to a punishing task
By Patrick Sennyah
Datuk Noh Omar says a national Seminar on Student
Discipline involving parent-teacher associations,
teachers, academicians and ministry officials will be
Teachers have been in the limelight recently because of the
drastic punishment meted out to students, despite strict
guidelines on punishment. PATRICK SENNYAH gets a clearer picture
on disciplinary teachers and punishment from Deputy Education
Minister Datuk Noh Omar, who oversees disciplinary issues
Q: What are the guidelines on punishing students, especially
A: What can and cannot be done are clearly stated in the
Disciplinary Guidelines for Headmasters and Teachers 1988.
Teachers cannot interpret these guidelines as they like or change
There are six forms of punishments set out in the guidelines
— a warning; suspension; expulsion; caning (for male
students); detention; or community service like cleaning the
As for caning, only the headmaster can do it. Even the discipline
teacher does not have the power to cane.
Female students cannot be caned at all, not by a male teacher or
even a female teacher.
A teacher can only cane (a male student) when the headmaster
delegates this power to him in writing. And this teacher must be
a permanent teacher of the school, not a temporary or replacement
teacher. And there are strict guidelines for caning.
The student can only be caned on the buttocks or the palm. It
cannot be done on bare buttocks and the student cannot be asked
to lower his pants.
Q: What changes do you see in the Amendments to Discipline
Regulations (Students) 1959?
A: We will organise a national Seminar on Student Discipline soon
involving parent-teacher associations, teachers, academicians and
The seminar is to get input to come up with a holistic and
effective way to overcome problems of indiscipline.
We will discuss the kinds of punishment which should be meted
out, including allowing female students to be caned.
Based on the feedback received, we will make the necessary
amendments and maybe even add new regulations to suit the present
Q: How are disciplinary teachers selected? Is there any
criteria and is there any training?
A: Any teacher can be appointed as a disciplinary teacher by the
headmaster or principal if he feels the teacher is suitable.
The only criteria the headmaster looks for is that the teacher
has a high level of commitment, dedication and has a good service
As for training, there is no specific training curriculum though
the ministry organises training courses from time to time.
Headmasters and principals are given the discretion to select
their discipline teachers and these teachers are usually those
who possess leadership qualities and can take charge of
disciplinary matters in the school.
There is a proposal that schools reduce the workload for
disciplinary teachers to concentrate on disciplinary matters.
Schools must be selective and choose a disciplinary teacher who
can also be a good friend and counsellor to the students.
Disciplinary teachers should not be someone students fear, but a
person they can easily approach.
Q: Are cases of teachers abusing their power rampant in
A: What power? Teachers do not have any kind of power. Their job
is to educate. This is what they are taught in teacher training,
to be an effective educator.
Their job is to teach students according to the ministry's
procedures and guidelines, that's all.
They have no power to punish. They (simply) cannot punish or
insult students in any way.
Q: Is there any counselling available to teachers who are
stressed or face other work-related problems?
A: We have counsellors at state district education offices for
teachers and education staff who face any problems.
If there is a need, these teachers and education staff will be
referred for further counselling or given any assistance they may
Being a teacher is not an easy job and it comes with all kinds of
stress. The ministry is aware of this and has prepared all the
necessary avenues needed for teachers to work as effectively as
Q: Do you think teachers sometimes vent their anger and
frustration on students?
A: This is difficult to say. But from my own experience, teachers
are mostly dedicated and have demonstrated a good level of
The only problem we have encountered is that some are at times
just too eager to institute discipline and this sometimes gets
out of hand.
We must understand that teachers are only human and they have
their share of worries and burdens, at home and at work.
Sometimes, parents expect too much from teachers. Teachers are
there to teach, while it is the duty of the parents to look into
the other needs of their children.
At times, parents expect teachers to be everything. This is
impossible. Teachers have hundreds of students to handle. They
cannot give individual attention to anyone.
Just like you and me, they have emotions and at times this may
upset them in some way. So long as the teachers act within their
scope of work, the ministry will back them.
Q: Are there any specific requirements before a person can
become a teacher?
A: No. Anyone with the right academic qualifications can apply to
become a teacher.
These applicants should know if they have what it takes to handle
and understand children.
Copyright © 2007 NST
Online. All rights reserved.
Corpun file 19493
The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 31 July 2007
Back disciplinary action, PTAs urged
By Hamdan Raja Abdullah
TANGKAK: Parent Teacher Associations (PTAs) have been urged to
support any disciplinary action imposed by teachers on students
in schools to control unruly characters.
Ledang MP Hamim Samuri said PTA members should not criticise
disciplinary teachers who slapped or caned students.
Speaking at the opening of the SMK Tengku Mahmud Iskandar
PTA's annual general meeting here, he said teachers had the
responsibility of not only teaching the students, but also to
develop their character.
"It seems today that parents are so over-protective of
their children that they can't even be scolded or punished
in schools," he said in Sungai Mati last week.
Hamim said if parents were over-protective and did not support
disciplinary action taken against them, no teachers would want to
When that happened, he said, unruly children would not only
become worse but also create problems in schools and the PTAs
would then accuse the schools of failing to instil good values in
He said teachers were among the most important people in
society and should always be respected and protected, not
condemned and criticised for trying to instil discipline.
"I feel sad when parents protest against teachers for
doing something they themselves do not do, develop good values in
"If they did, the children would not misbehave or disobey
their teachers or school rules," he added.
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