Thursday, October 16, 2008


Pupils excluded from UPSR
Fathers tell of two boys’ plight after being denied right to sit Standard Sic test three years ago


Future looks bleak for two 15-year-old boys in Kampung Kitobu, Inanam, who were allegedly denied the right to sit the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR) three years ago. The reason given was the then Standard Six pupils were weak and the school had to maintain its UPSR performance. At least that was what the headmaster told the boys’ fathers, Samson Edvin, 49, and Sahajiman Baranting, 40, when they were called in for a ‘private meeting’ at the primary school in February 2005. Out of respect for the headmaster, and thinking that “he was doing the right and legal thing”, both Edvin and Baranting agreed to the move to exclude their Sons from the UPSR. They also allowed their verbal statements recorded as proof of the agreement. Although today, Edvin’s son Malccom is sitting for the Penilaian Menengah Rendah (PMR) examination, it is such a struggle for the teenager as he was denied the right to textbooks. While Baranting’s son Pilatus decided to drop out of school two years ago and now works at a workshop in Inanam. Ironically, both boys are the fourth child among seven siblings. “We never have such problems with his siblings. We should have known better before, but we did not know that UPSR is as important as other examinations such as PMR, Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM),” said Edvin. “It was a struggle to get my son admitted into a school and up to today, his teachers often pester me over his UPSR result slip.., that is one of the reasons why my son was denied the right to textbooks. He hic1 to borrow books from friends at school, and when he got home, it was hard for him to do revision as there were no textbooks to refer to,” the father lamented. Baranting echoed Edvin’s words, saying that they managed to get their sons to further pursue their education in a secondary school, but things were not easy for them after that. “Pilatus managed to enrol for Form One at a secondary school here, L but he often came home crying. He would tell me that his friends would make fun of him for not sitting the UPSR,” Baranting said. “It had given him so much pressure and one day, he could not take it anymore and decided to leave school... initially he was helping me in the farm, but now he is a mechanic at one of the workshops in town. “I honestly feel cheated and fooled by the headmaster. He had told us, - including two other parents, that our children were very weak in their studies and requested that the children be left out of the Standard Six test. “He was the headmaster and of course we respected and thought he was doing the right thing; how were we supposed to know that it would bring such disastrous implications on our children’s future,” Baranting said, adding that he did not know the fate of the other two teenagers who were also barred from sitting the test. Both parents have decided to voice out their problem fearing that it would happen to other under- performing children. “We have brought the matter up to the State Education Department. In a reply from them, they had agreed to investigate the matter thoroughly, and disclosed that, based on our complaints, the headmaster had violated existing rules and regulations for barring pupils from taking the UPSR,” said Baranting. He just hoped that Pilatus will have a second chance in life and be allowed to enroll at a vocational school to gain some skills that would be beneficial to him in the future. Edvin, meanwhile, said: “It is our hope that the relevant authorities will take the necessary action against the headmaster soon before he repeats the same act. He has denied our children’s rights and it can happen to yours too.” The matter was also brought to Inanam Assemblyman Johnny Goh’s attention. “I have also written a letter to the Department requesting them to investigate the matter. I believe that the headmaster should not have barred these pupils from taking the UPSR just because they are weak; they should not be, punished this way. It is such a shame,” Goh said. “Action can be taken against parents for not sending their children to school, but in this case, it is the other way around - the headmaster denies the children’s right to education, so I will not blame the parents if they decide to bring the matter to court,” he said.