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Monday, July 3, 2017

Parents unaware PIBG fee is voluntary, but most still pay

Parents of children at SJK(C) Puay Chai 2 in Petaling Jaya have been paying fees to its parent-teacher association (PIBG) and also "security fees" demanded by the school, without being aware that they are not required to do so under the law.
Malaysiakini approached several parents outside the school, where an eight-year-old student was allegedly caned 12 times for failing to pay RM60 - RM20 for PIBG "activity" fees and RM40 as security fees, and many parents said they were unaware that the fees were not compulsory.
One of the parents, who only wanted to be known as Chin, said he has two children, one in Standard 2 and other in Standard 6 at the school, and he was clueless as to whether the said fees were compulsory.
"The letters (sent to parents asking for payment), do not say if the fees are compulsory, but it feels like I must pay," Chin said, adding that the blame should not be placed on the teacher for caning the student.
"Instead, the onus should fall on the PIBG to make it clear whether or not the fees are compulsory."
Another parent, who only wanted to be known as Catherine, said her daughter attends Standard 3 at the school and she found out about the incident through the news.
"I feel that it (the caning) is not right, if it is true. Whether we parents want to pay or not, that is a different thing. But I don't know whether it is compulsory (to pay PIBG fees)," she said, adding that she would pay nevertheless, to "avoid problems" for her child.
Lam, whose son is in Standard 6 at SJK(C) Puay Chai 2, told Malaysiakini she only learned that the fees were optional after the authorities commented on the matter.
Deputy education ministers P Kamalanathan and Chong Sin Woon had said that the PIBG fees are not compulsory, and parents can opt not to pay.
However, Lam claimed that the school's headmistress had announced, during a school assembly earlier this year, that the fees are compulsory.
'Fees caught me off guard'
Several parents told Malaysiakini that the letter they received from the school requesting for the fees to be paid by June 22 had caught them off guard.
“It’s a surprise when you come out with fees like that,” said a mother, who wished to be known only as Kim, whose son is in Standard 1.
Voon, who was dropping off his seven-year-old at the school, also said the letter had “caught him off guard”.
Catherine lamented that her daughter often brought home notices from the school asking for payments.
“Every now and then, my child comes back with notices that parents need to pay for this and that. Why can’t the school just come out with a whole year kind of thing, instead of issuing notices every couple of months?
“It would be better if, at the beginning of the school year, they list down whatever parents need to pay for the whole year,” Catherine added.
Malaysiakini spoke to two security guards based at SJK(C) Puay Chai 2, who are among six employed by the school, and they said they were on the payroll of the school’s PIBG, and were paid RM1,500 a month.
Koh, whose daughter is in Standard 4, said she did not mind paying extra for added security.
“This school is quite big and there are many children, so they need more guards.

“But I definitely don’t agree with the caning of that child, if the parents can’t pay the fees demanded, because every family has their own issues,” Koh said.
The school has more than 2,400 pupils, according to the school's website.
News reports earlier said the caned student's mother, who is a single parent, has received an apology from the school for the incident. She was also allegedly told by the school's principal not to speak to the press.
When contacted yesterday, SJK(C) Puay Chai 2 headmistress Pang Lai Cheun refused comment. -Mkini

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