Stop with transferring teachers who have been found to have physically, sexually or mentally abused students and instead suspend them pending internal and police investigation

I refer to the news article in The Star dated 4 October 2019 titled “Teacher who allegedly stapled boy’s ear transferred to another school, says Sabah Education Dept” on the incident of a primary 4 students ear allegedly stapled by his teacher because he failed to do his homework. The mother had filed a police report and a decision was made for the teacher to be sent for counselling.

Was there an internal investigation into this allegation and if the teacher was indeed found to be guilty, will transferring the teacher to another school ensure that the same incident will not happen again? Was the teacher sent for counselling? And if yes, is the teacher mentally fit to perform and carry out her duties to the best of her abilities?

If she did not commit such a crime, then she need not be transferred. But the fact that she is transferred indicates that she had indeed stapled the ear of her student!

What guarantee can anyone give that the teacher will not repeat her act in the new school and worse if it is beyond stapling a child’s ear?

Should this incident have happened outside the school compound, in the streets, in broad daylight, will it not be a crime and investigated by the police under Section 17(2)(a) of the Child Act 2001 which states that a child is physically injured if there is substantial and observable injury to any part of the child’s body as a result of the non-accidental application of force or an agent to the child’s body that is evidenced by, amongst other things, a laceration, a contusion, an abrasion, a scar, a fracture or other bone injury, a dislocation, a sprain, haemorrhaging, the rupture of a viscus, a burn, a scald, the loss or alteration of consciousness or physiological functioning or the loss of hair or teeth?

What happened to the boy is clear as stated in the provision of the Child Act, so why has the teacher been transferred instead of a suspension for the matter to be thoroughly investigated by the police?

Malaysia has some of the world’s most dedicated educators for their students to excel academically, according to a research by Cambridge Assessment International Education (Cambridge International) conducted last year amongst 10 countries like Argentina, China, India, Indonesia, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Spain and the United States.

With such dedicated teachers who put the welfare of their students above their personal need, it is a shame when we allow mischievous teachers to continue to teach in other schools, without being severely reprimanded, escaping the long arm of the law, and in the end, transferring the problem from one school to another.

Teachers alleged to have committed any such crime, be it emotional abuse, sexual abuse or physical abuse on students must be suspended pending investigation and not be allowed to be in the presence of children until and unless he or she has undergone a psychological or psychiatric assessment first.

Kasthuri Patto
DAP WANITA INTERNATIONAL SECRETARY, MEMBER OF THE PARLIAMENTARY SPECIAL SELECT COMMITTEE ON RIGHTS AND GENDER EQUALITY & MP FOR BATU KAWAN
Media statement by Kasthuri Patto in Kuala Lumpur on Friday, 4th October 2019