Sunday, October 24, 2010

Make schools safe for teachers and students

DEPUTY Prime Minister and Education Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said in Parliament last week that some 1,650 of 55,000 school buildings were found to be severely damaged and required immediate attention.

Five percent of the number was found to have wiring problems.

This revelation is a matter of grave concern not only to the Education Ministry, but also to the teachers, parents and students.

What immediately comes to mind is how soon will this be rectified as the safety of teachers and the students are at stake.

Over the years a number of accidents had occurred in schools which resulted in injuries to students.

The latest incident involved SK Gunong in Kedah where a classroom floor caved in while a class was going on and 10 pupils and a teacher were injured.

According to Muhyiddin, the Government allocated RM8.85bil for his ministry to carry out development projects under the 10th Malaysia Plan. An estimated RM5.36bil would be used to continue uncompleted projects under the 9th Malaysia Plan. The balance is to construct new buildings and schools, as well as upgrading existing ones.

As such, the Government should provide a special allocation for repairs and rectification works on all affected schools in the interest of safety.

Under no circumstances must the safety of teachers and students be compromised and the “safe school” concept of the Education Ministry be put in jeopardy.

The subject of “safe schools” should not be confined only to indiscipline, crime, threats to the safety of students, bullying and gangster-like behavior etc but also to matters concerning the safety of school buildings, classrooms, equipment and all other amenities in schools.

In this regard, there is a need for schools to be aware of the existence and importance of the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994 and its application to educational institutions.

Schools with 40 or more employees are required to set up safety and health committees.

Through safety and health training, and education as well as safety and health promotion, every school will be more aware of the potential safety and health hazards in the school. They will also be capable of dealing with any problems that arise.

Such a move will also benefit the students who can learn more about safety and health at an early age.


Kuala Lumpur.

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