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School CP - January 2001

masthead The Star, Kuala Lumpur, 19 January 2001

Points system to curb indiscipline in Penang schools

By J. Sebastian

PENANG: Sporting a moustache or beard may make one look more manly but it could also spell trouble if you are a student.

So is dyeing your hair, wearing costume jewellery, borrowing textbooks from classmates or even failing to return reply slips given by schools.

Penang has implemented a system aimed at curbing indiscipline in schools where demerit points would be slapped on students for offences, which when accumulated, could result in a maximum of two weeks' suspension.

The demerit points system was enforced under a "classroom monitoring system'' implemented in all 248 primary and 86 secondary schools in Penang from Monday..

Topping the list of offences under the system, which a Penang education department spokesman stressed was to provide a conducive environment for teaching in classrooms, was fighting with teachers and prefects.

Students who commit these offences could face up to 30 demerit points, for which they could be given three strokes of the cane.

Other offences include gambling, stealing, bringing and distributing pornographic materials, using vulgar words, damaging school property, eating in the classroom, bringing sweets and playing with chalk.

Those who accumulate 10 points could be caned once and given advice, while those with 20 points would have to attend detention classes besides being caned once.

Those who get 40 points would be caned twice, have their parents contacted, compelled to attend a counselling session, sign an agreement with the school to behave themselves and attend detention classes.

Students who accumulate 50 points face suspension from school for one week, have to attend a counselling session and detention classes while their parents would have to sign an agreement with schools to pledge the good behaviour of their children.

Students, on getting a total of 80 points, would have to face all the above penalties and be suspended from school for two weeks.

The spokesman stressed that the system was not implemented to punish students.

"It takes care of irritating problems and disruptive behaviour among students, like those who forget to bring textbooks and those who shout in class.

"It also helps us to nip problems in the bud,'' he said, adding that it empowered teachers to act quickly to solve such problems in the classroom.

The spokesman said a pilot project was conducted from August till the end of last year in more than 30 secondary and primary schools, adding that feedback showed that the system was successful in checking discipline among students.

He stressed that the offences and penalities were only guidelines for implementation in schools, which could alter them to suit the situation.

Penang National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary Abu Haniffa Naina Mohd, in welcoming the system, said he was confident that it would help check indiscipline among students.

He, however, hoped that caning would be used as a last resort to punish students.

In Kuala Lumpur, S. INDRAMALAR reports the Education Ministry's Schools Division assistant director Cyril Christopher Singham as saying that there was no national circular for schools to implement the demerit system.

"So far, individual states have, on their own initiative, introduced the system.

"Sometimes, the states give the schools authority to come up with their own points system. But so far, it has not been a national directive,'' he said.

A teacher in a Klang Valley school said the system was implemented in her school at least five years ago but was scrapped as the school found that it did not work.

She said it involved too much paperwork for teachers and students who collected the demerit points were not worried about how many points they obtained.

The teacher, who did not want to be named, said the school had since introduced a new system to instil discipline among students.

"Now, the class teacher keeps a buku disiplin and records the offences of her own students. This is an easier way to keep tabs on students,'' she said.

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