Not a must for Sarawak schools to hold Palestinian solidarity week, says state DAP

Desmond Davidson

Sarawak DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen (pictured) says Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying has confirmed that is not compulsory for schools in Sarawak told hold the Palestinian Solidarity Week. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, October 26, 2023.

SARAWAK DAP chief Chong Chieng Jen has said “it is not compulsory” for schools in Sarawak to adhere to the Education Ministry’s directive for all lower educational institutions under its purview to hold a solidarity week in support of the Palestinians’ plight.

“I have confirmed with the Deputy Education Minister (Lim Hui Ying ) that it is not compulsory for schools in Sarawak to organise the programme,” the Stampin MP and Sarawak Pakatan Harapan chief said in a statement.

Chong said the directive, which also included vocational colleges, matriculation colleges and teacher training institutes throughout the country, had caused great concern among Sarawak folk.

Echoing the growing voices against the directive, Chong said it is Sarawak DAP’s stand that the Education Ministry should not involve school students in the Palestine-Gaza war “as the conflict is a very emotive and complicated issue”.

“Anger and hatred are normally associated with such issues. These are not what we want our young children to get involved in during their childhood in school,” he added.

He said in a dialogue between the Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek and the unity government MPs yesterday, the Sarawak DAP MPs had made “clear of our concerns and objection to such programme being run in schools in Sarawak”.

“Today, I have obtained the confirmation from the Deputy Education Minister Lim Hui Ying that the programme is not compulsory for schools in Sarawak. I hope the management of schools in Sarawak will not feel compelled by the directive to organise the programme.

“While we all are against the atrocities of war and wish for peace, we do not want our children to get emotionally involved in the Palestine-Israel conflict at such young stage,” he said.

The Education Ministry, in a statement today, however, reiterated it will carry out the Palestinian Solidarity Week starting this Sunday till November 3, despite calls not to drag schools and school children into the highly divisive issue.

There was no mention of schools in Sarawak exempted from it in the statement.

In response to calls not to get young students involved, the statement said the advancement of media and communication technology today exposes these students to various types of content, including those related to international conflicts and humanitarian crises.

It said intervention is therefore necessary to provide “enlightenment” to students on these matters.

“The aim of this programme is to educate students on human values, including human rights and compassion.

“This includes fostering empathy and concern for the suffering experienced by individuals, regardless of their nationality, religion or social status,” the statement added. – October 26, 2023.

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