Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon addressing the press ay Hotel Wembley, Penang today. Pix by Mikail Ong

GEORGE TOWN: All problematic students, including those expelled for bullying, will be given a second chance to continue their studies but they will have to do so in a different school.

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon said the ministry believed problematic students should also be allowed to continue their studies.

As for those involved in serious cases such as the Darul Quran Ittifaqyah (DQI) tahfiz school fire that saw 23 people killed in Datuk Keramat, Kuala Lumpur last month, he said the ministry would deal with them on a case-by-case basis.

He however pointed out that such cases were rare and isolated.

"Second chance is given so that these students can have the opportunity to change for the better, and at the same time, are not left behind in their studies.

"However, they will be placed at another school and cannot return to their old school.

"As far as the ministry is concerned, we will try to provide education to each and every student. That has and will always continue to be our practice," he told the New Straits Times when contacted today.

Chong, who visited Kampung Padang in Lahar Kepar here earlier today, was asked to comment on the fate of students who were involved in bullying, being penalised with suspension and expelled from school.

He said even though the student who bullies would be expelled from school, his records would still be in the ministry's system. Hence he could continue his studies at another school.

He however said the type of bullying needed to be identified first to ensure fair and necessary action can be taken against the student.

"For instance, hiding another student's school bag can be considered as bullying. So we need to be clear about it,

"If the case is serious, then sending the student to a military-type school would suit him," he added.

Meanwhile, National Union of the Teaching Profession's (NUTP) Penang branch chairman Ng Weng Tutt, in welcoming the move, said rehabilitation was important for problematic students after they were being readmitted into a new school.

"Transferring problematic students to another school has been practised for many years already, but what I want to see is that there are necessary steps being taken to change the students' attitude.

"Therapy sessions, anger management courses or counselling should be conducted so that the students will not repeat the same mistake at the new school," he said when contacted.

Recently, six teenagers, arrested in connection with the tahfiz fire, were reportedly expelled from their schools.

This had prompted debate and discussion on the relevance of expelling students due to their problematic behaviours.

Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had defended the expulsion punishment for students involved in serious disciplinary cases.

He had said that the punishment was relevant and that it was carried out through proper procedure.

Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim had said that all problematic schoolchildren should not be expelled from school.

She proposed that these students be placed in a special rehabilitation classes handled by the school counsellors.

Ng agreed with Rohani's views, saying that expelling students does not address the problem.

"Their studies are crucial as well. As such, they should be provided with counseling to become a better person and student," he added.

On a separate matter, Chong said the ministry would consider reintroducing Post Graduate Teaching Course (KPLI) if there is a shortage of teachers in the next five years.

He said that the issue did not arise at the moment as schools have sufficient teachers.

"The interim teaching programme will only be offered if there is a need for it. For now, I believe we do not need it.

"The usual scenario is the senior teachers retired, some taking maternity leaves. For that, on Oct 23, we will send 319 interim teachers nationwide to fill the vacancies we have at the moment." he added.

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