Some say it's a waste of time
Mon, Mar 01, 2010
New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA - The ban on school elections has received mixed views.

While some are saying that schools should focus on education, others want the process to go on to inculcate creativity and freedom of expression among students.

National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Prof Loke Yim Pheng said students should focus only on education.

"Why must we bring the (election) culture to schools? It will only create tensions and disturbances because there will be lots of students campaigning for posts.

"It will divert their attention from doing the real thing -- studying."

She said students could learn about elections when they were in universities.

"They will be ready for the election process by then."

Loke said as part of educating students to practise democracy from young, they could give their feedback to their schools.

"But primary and secondary schools are definitely not the place for elections."

National Parent-Teacher Association chairman Associate Prof Mohd Ali Hassan echoed similar sentiments.

He, however, said polls should be allowed for Form Six students.

Ali said elections at an early age were a sheer waste of time.

Such an activity, he added, benefited neither the students nor the schools.

"If elections are allowed, I am afraid that it might encourage money politics at a very young age. Some might start giving empty promises to win while others might buy ice cream to win votes.

"However, I am of the opinion that sixth formers should be allowed to vote for their head perfect as they are on par with college and university students.

"They are mature enough to vote," he added.

Parents Action Group for Education thinks that students' capabilities should not be underestimated.

"It is a part of the thinking process. It will also help them to be creative," said Page chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Karim.

She added that the process would not encourage money politics.

"The adults are reading too much between the lines. There is no dark side to school elections."

To avoid confusion or tension, schools should be transparent and clear about the election process, she said.

"Schools normally do 90 per cent of the selection and the remaining 10 per cent is done by pupils.

"By allowing them to vote, the children will feel like they are part of the democratic process."

Meanwhile, the Election Commission has lauded the Education Ministry's move to ban school elections.

Deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said it was the right decision not to get students involved in school elections.

"This is my personal opinion. They are too young to understand politics. It will also encourage groupings. It might split them from young," he said when commenting on the Education Ministry's move to ban elections in all primary and secondary schools.

He added that the schools did not seek any advice from the EC before holding the elections as the matter came under the ministry.

"The schools must have decided to go ahead with the process after seeking approval from their parent-teacher associations."

Wan Ahmad said primary schoolchildren could learn democracy in class and debate the subject when they were in secondary schools.

"They can then apply what they have learnt in colleges or universities."

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