Anonymous complaint box for schools could backfire, say groups

Mak said rivalry among students could also lead to the complaint box being abused with innocent students being victimised. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Mak said rivalry among students could also lead to the complaint box being abused with innocent students being victimised. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

PETALING JAYA, Feb 6 — Education groups are concerned the introduction of a complaint box for students to secretly report their misbehaving peers could create a negative environment in schools. 

Malacca Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said without a proper mechanism in place, the system could backfire and create a culture of backstabbing.

He said rivalry among students could also lead to the complaint box being abused with innocent students being victimised. 

“The ministry needs to discuss the pros and cons of the complaint box and perhaps solve the root of disciplinary problems first,” he said.

Mak doubted the box would encourage students to rat against their peers and at the same time, parents might also not want their children to be entangled in the situation.

“Some may say they sent their children to school to seek knowledge, not to complain against one another,” he said.

National Parent Teacher Association Collaborative Council president Prof Madya Datuk Mohamad Ali Hasan said having the box might impose extra work on teachers as they would have to investigate the complaints.

He said the box should be under the provision of the disciplinary teacher as well as the guidance and counselling teacher.

“What mechanisms are in place to ensure the complaints lodged are genuine? This may end up creating a platform to be abused by pranksters.

“How will the school administration ensure students who lodged the complaints will have their anonymity protected?” he asked.

Mohamad Ali said the system, however, was worth the try and that it should be open to reports made against misdemeanours inside and outside of schools.

“Sometimes there are students who skip school and are up to no good outside, so it is acceptable to report wrongful activities outside of schools as well,” he said.

The Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the government should try out the complaint system in high-risk schools first, particularly those known for gangsterism.

She said the pilot programme of the complaint box in these schools could determine if it is necessary in schools nationwide.

“Sometimes students do not want to share information about their friends openly and would stand by them despite their wrongdoings.

“Perhaps this can be a platform for them to be able to reveal information safely. However, a proper mechanism needs to be in place to ensure students who complained are protected,” she said.

Noor Azimah said the question also arose on how the schools would be able to determine the accuracy of the complaints reported.

She also said schools have to ensure the complaints are taken seriously, and not be swept under the rug just because of self-interest such as the students having influential parents.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid yesterday said schools were instructed to provide a complaint box for students to voluntarily give information confidentially of their peers’ misconducts, especially involvement in crime.

He said the information provided would be scrutinised by disciplinary teachers and if necessary would be forwarded to police.

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