GELANG PATAH, Jan 1 — The Education Ministry will be formulating guidelines to tackle incidents of internet abuse, especially cyberbullying among students in the country.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk P. Kamalanathan said cyberbullying was one of the main examples that the ministry was looking at in light of students being more tech-savvy.
“The guidelines on students’ behaviour and conduct have always existed, but the ministry will improve on it by including cyberbullying as a current issue that needs to be addressed,” he said.
Kamalanathan said the inclusion of cyberbullying in the behaviour and conduct guidelines will also take into consideration aspects to protect both parties, who are the students as well as teachers.
“The ministry is discussing the matter and finding the right balance before reviewing and implementing such specific issues into the current guidelines. This will be done as soon as possible as the guidelines are in the final phase before implementation,” he said after visiting SJK (T) Gelang Patah in Kampong Bukit Tempurung here today.
Schools in the country already deal with bullying through anti-bullying guidelines, but cyberbullying, as outlined, presents new challenges that the current guidelines do not address.
To a related question, Kamalanathan said the ministry is also looking into providing clearer guidelines for teachers to deal with students’ disciplinary problems, especially those relating to corporal punishment.
“We (the ministry) will look into the suggestions before reviewing and improving the guidelines for teachers,” he said, adding that the ministry will also discuss on the issue of providing authority letters to disciplinary teachers or to gazette them to discharge punishments on students who commit offenses.
Last month, teacher Azizan Manap, 44, was given a discharge not amounting to an acquittal by the Seremban Magistrate’s Court last month for allegedly voluntarily causing hurt to an 11-year-old pupil.
He was charged with injuring the left cheek of a male pupil of SK Taman Semarak in Nilai at about 7 am on April 6 last year as the student was guilty of sniffing glue, fighting and bullying.
Kamalanathan had earlier visited two other primary schools in the Gelang Patah parliamentary constituency as part of his visit on the first schooling day of the year. Present was Johor education director Shaharudin Sharif and the ministry’s school management division head Aminudin Adam.
Johor does not observe January 1 as a public holiday and is a working and schooling day for the state.
On a separate matter, Kamalanathan assured the public that the ministry will address the issue concerning the shortage of teachers nationwide by March this year.
There is currently a shortage of 403 primary school teachers and 334 secondary school teachers nationwide.