Sabah school ordered to stop religious segregation of students

Yusof said the case was an isolated incident in the state and that he considered the matter closed after meeting the school principal. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa
Yusof said the case was an isolated incident in the state and that he considered the matter closed after meeting the school principal. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KOTA KINABALU, March 18 ― The Sabah Education and Innovation Ministry has ordered Sekolah Menengah All Saints here to immediately stop segregating its Form One students according to their religion.

The directive was issued today after a meeting between the minister Datuk Dr Yusof Yacob, Sabah Education deputy director Datuk Mohd Kassim Mohd Ibrahim and the school’s principal, Mary Bambidau.

Dr Yusof told a press conference at the school later that this was an isolated incident in the state and he considered the matter closed.

“I’m sure the principal had good intentions but she misjudged and overlooked the situation. After our meeting today, I believe we have resolved the situation.

“In the future, we won’t want any school to have segregation based on race or religion. I hope the parents won’t worry anymore, and this issue will rest so we can move on,” he said.

Dr Yusof said the state ministry would not be taking any action against the principal, adding that she had admitted her mistake and rectified the situation.

“To me, the issue is small but we in the State government look at it with concern because Sabah’s strength is its unity without being separated by racial and religious differences, that is our brand,” he said.

Earlier this month, parents submitted a petition to the Education Ministry concerning the method in which the Form One students at the school were divided.

In the petition, parents claimed that students were placed in different classes according to their religions ― four classes for non-Muslim students and two classes for Muslim students ― until they are in Form Three.

An online petition calling for an end to the segregation garnered more than 15,000 signatures.

Typically, the school had six mixed classes and students move around during the Moral Education or Islamic Religion periods.

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