The Education Ministry will hold counseling sessions for the Orang Asli following the Pos Tohoi tragedy where four children at a boarding school died after allegedly fleeing their school to hide in the jungle.
Deputy education minister P. Kamalanthan said the ministry will do all it can to ensure that parents from the indigenous community would send their children back to school.
“Education is for all and the ministry does not want to see anyone left out,” he told reporters at a press conference after a cheque presentation ceremony to 44 Tamil schools in Negri Sembilan.
Seven Orang Asli pupils at SK Tohoi in Gua Musang, Kelantan, went missing on August 23, reportedly because they feared punishment by their teachers.
Four are dead while two, Miksudiar Alui, 11, and Norieen Yaakob, 10, were found safe after weeks in the jungle.
The dead pupils – Ika Ayel, 9, Haikal Yaacob, 8, Linda Rosli, 8 and Juvina David, 7 – were buried last Sunday.
Traumatised parents from Orang Asli villages in the area then said they would pull out all their children from the boarding school situated some two hours away from their homes.
Kamalanathan added that the counseling session will be given to not only students and parents but also teachers to understand the community better.
“A committee has also been set up to look into their welfare and see that Orang Asli children do not fall out of the education system,” he said.
It is learnt that the committee headed by education director-general Datuk Seri Dr Khair Mohamad Yusuf, would look at development, safety, welfare and health aspects of the hostels.
Kamalanathan said the ministry will do its best to achieve the target of 100% children attending schools.
“We now have 97% students attending first year in school,”
“The ministry is committed to see the other 3% entering the system,” he added.
Asked if there were shortcomings on the teachers end that caused the SK Tohoi incident, Kamalanathan said all teachers were doing their best.
“We have 400,000 teachers and all of them are doing their best,” he said.
He added that the teachers at the school will be engaged to avoid similar incidents in future. – October 28, 2015.
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