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In Malaysia, however, the practice has never left the school grounds. Caning has always been legal in Malaysian schools. The Education Ordinance 1957 (Amended 1959) allows corporal punishments, such as caning, to be meted out by school authorities, but only to schoolboys. An Education Ministry directive issued in 1994 listed eight offences that could warrant caning: truancy, involvement in criminal activities, obscene and impolite behaviour, loitering, dishonesty, dirty appearance and vandalism. 5 II
A probe on human rights awareness among secondary school teachers, students and administrators conducted by researchers from local universities engaged by the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia revealed the regular use of the cane in schools. What the inquiry found was a gross breach of a child’s rights committed by teachers and administrators alike. In their findings, out of the 5,754 students who participated in the survey, about 52 per cent of the students surveyed agreed that caning commonly happened in their schools.
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It took place more often in rural schools than urban ones and almost 80 per cent of the cases occurred at technical schools. 10 15 III Understandably, is disheartened by the findings of its study. Commissioner and education working group chairman, Professor Chiam Heng Keng said that while SUHAKAM understands the need to discipline and punish wrongdoers, it maintains that caning is not the best corrective measure. She further added that caning only tells the child to stop whatever he has done. In other words, it does not address the underlying problem. She stressed that teachers must work with parents to get to the root of the problem.
In addition, they also revealed that girls were not spared the rod. Almost seven per cent of female respondents from girl schools had reported this. Under the present Child Act 2001, only boys between the ages of 10 and 18 may be subjected to corporal punishment. 30 35 V Last October, the Ministry of Education allowed teachers other than 40 headmasters, principals and those involved in disciplining students to use the cane.
The decision followed the rise in cases of assault on teachers and gangsterism in schools. It was recommended that only certain teachers be empowered to cane students. Ideally, they should have at least 10 years of teaching experience and be married with children. 45 VI The secretary-general of the National Union of the Teaching Profession, Lok Yim Pheng, admitted that there are other ways of disciplining a student. These include imposing fines, sending students to detention class and making parents sign a pledge to ensure that their children do not misbehave.