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Friday, June 30, 2017

Caning for paying PTA fees late: Parents’ groups shocked

PAGE says it is not compulsory for parents to pay PTA fees.
Mak-Chee-Kin_rotan_600PETALING JAYA: Parents’ groups are baffled by a China Press report that students from a primary school here were given 12 strokes of the cane over alleged late payments to the parent-teacher association (PTA).
According to the Chinese daily, the students from a Chinese school in Damansara here were punished after they failed to settle miscellaneous PTA fees.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin said it was hard to believe that students were caned for such a reason.
“If it is true, then I think the school has gone overboard,” he told FMT.
Mak also questioned whether parents of the students involved in the alleged incident had spoken to the school about their finances.
Schools, he argued, could probably allow for a little leeway if they were aware that parents were not doing well financially.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said that such fees were merely a contribution and it was not compulsory for parents to fork out money for it.
“PIBG fees is a donation; it is not a school fee. And not everyone can afford to pay,” she said, referring to PTA in its Malay acronym.
National Parent-Teacher Association Consultative Council (PIBGN) president Mohamad Ali Hassan said that caning students over the alleged late payment was cruel.
“The PTA should instead care more about the students’ welfare,” he said, adding PTAs had a task to help students who have financial problems.
Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching said under education ministry regulations, students can only be caned for committing serious offences.
“Nowhere does it state that late payment is an ‘offence’.”
The DAP MP had also called on the ministry to investigate the incident.
“Our education should be free and no fees should be collected on a compulsory basis.
“The government must allocate funds to all national, Chinese and Tamil schools,” she said.
Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon had also earlier this week weighed in on the issue, stressing that the government had never forced parents to pay the PTA fees.
“The fees should be given voluntarily and not by force,” he was quoted as saying by China Press on Tuesday.
Chong also said there was no point for parents to vent their frustrations on social media.
“Bring the complaints to the state education department. That way, we can take action,” he added.
* Afiqah Farieza contributed to this article. -FMT

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