'Corrective' action for Sabah school segregating students by religion

Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching.

PETALING JAYA: The education ministry has requested that the Sabah Education Department “correct” the segregation of Muslim and non-Muslim students according to their religion at a secondary school in the state.

Speaking to FMT, Deputy Education Minister Teo Nie Ching said school administrators should be more sensitive and careful in running their schools.

“The education ministry aims to create an education system based on values, and mutual respect is one key value which Education Minister Maszlee Malik always emphasises on, especially in our country where racial unity is vital.”

She said the segregation of students according to their religion was only acceptable for Islamic and Moral classes, and even then, this was to make the studying process easier.

“But there is the bigger agenda of unity in our school system.”

Teo added that the Sabah Education Department had informed the ministry that officials from the School Management Sector (SPS) and the Inspectorate of Schools and Quality Assurance (JNJK) will go to the school tomorrow to assist in the “corrective action”.

Yesterday, it was reported that Form One students in a secondary school in Kota Kinabalu had been placed in classes according to their religions.

The segregation exercise started in January with four classes reserved for non-Muslim students and two more for Muslim students.

This arrangement is supposed to be in place for the next three years.

An online petition against the school, launched three days ago, has collected more than 12,300 signatures.

The school principal was recorded in a video as explaining the reasons for the new system which, among others, included the students’ safety, lack of classrooms for Islamic Education classes and complaints from students confused over where their classes were being held.