PETALING JAYA, Jan 28 — Seventy-six pupils of Sekolah Kebangsaan Pos Tohoi have not returned to school after five of their schoolmates died tragically last August.
Their parents claim they were still traumatised by the incident and the authorities had not done enough to improve conditions in the school.
Ayel Ajib, 48, the father of Ika, who died in the incident, said his three other children refused to return to school.
“They are so afraid after what happened to their elder sister,” he said.
Ayel admitted that he, too, felt frightened to send his children back to the school.
“I do not want my other children to suffer the same fate. They are still young and have a long life ahead of them,” he told a press conference here after he and 16 other villagers from Pos Tohoi submitted a memorandum to the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia.
Ika and seven other pupils had gone missing in the jungle near their school for 50 days from Aug 23 last year.
Only two — Mirsudiar Aluj, 11, and Norieen Yakob, 10 — survived. They were found weak and starving by search and rescue parties on a river bank.
It was reported the children were trying to walk back to their village as they were afraid of being punished for swimming in a river.
In the memorandum, the villagers urged the government to build a school for the Orang Asli community, appoint an officer from their community to teach their children basic living skills, replace all teachers at SK Pos Tohoi, and provide additional vehicles for the children to commute to and from the village.
Norieen’s mother, Midah Angah, 41, said she would send her children back to school after changes were made.
“I want to be able to see my children frequently if they are sent back to same school. I want them to update me on what is going on in the school,” she said.
Midah said Norieen still could not get over the tragedy.
“She sometimes comes up to me crying at night when she recalls how she watched her friends die,” she said.
After the incident, the Rural and Regional Development Ministry announced that the children would be given transport home every two weeks.
The school had also mended its perimeter fence as the children had apparently sneaked out of school through a gaping hole.