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Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Concern over school truancy rate

Rabiatul Kamit

THE education minister yesterday voiced grave concern over truancy in primary schools as it was revealed that as many as 3,913 students missed at least three weeks of school in 2015.

Yang Berhormat Pehin Orang Kaya Indera Pahlawan Dato Seri Setia Hj Suyoi Hj Osman said a staggering 16.2 per cent of primary school students were absent for more than 20 days last year while some were away from school for 140 days.

“We also saw a very low percentage of attendance in July and November, which were in the month of Ramadhan and the month before the start of the school term holidays,” he added.

The newly-appointed minister raised the issue during a closed-door meeting between Ministry of Education (MoE) officials and Legislative Council (LegCo) members, admitting that chronic absenteeism was troubling education providers.

“Such problems should be dealt with together as schools have identified absent students to the extent of visiting their respective homes,” he said.

Addressing LegCo members, YB Pehin Dato Hj Suyoi called for cooperation in recognising the underlying factors affecting truant students, including parents who lack commitment in ensuring their children attend school or are indifferent to their children’s learning progress.

He also urged for causes behind chronic absenteeism to be addressed and necessary assistance to be provided for these students.

Students living in national housing schemes nationwide have one of the worst attendance rates in the country, according to preliminary data collected by the MoE from January to March 2015.

Hj Abdul Rahim Hj Derus, Acting Director General of Education, last year said a “mindset” problem was the likely cause for poor attendance in schools.

“The majority (of absenteeism) is because of mentality. Some genuinely don’t have transport, but there are cases where the distance from home to school is only one kilometre, and yet they are still not going to school,” he said on the sidelines of a meeting with Belait grassroots leaders.

Visits by the Department of Schools’ Student Welfare Unit to resettlement housing areas and nearby schools also found that students were often falling asleep in class.

“In some visits, both parents and older siblings were at home (when the children were sleeping late).
 ”Parents shouldn’t spoil their children so much, and (they should) make sure that they go to bed on time so they can be ready for school in the morning,” he said.

The MoE set a 95 per cent attendance rate as a key performance indicator for schools last year as part of its remedial action to tackle truancy.

The Compulsory Education Act was also introduced in 2007 requiring Bruneian citizens or residents aged between six to 15 years old to attend school if they were born on or after January 1, 2002, and enables legal action to be taken against parents or guardians of truant students.

If convicted, an offending parent or guardian will be liable to a maximum fine of $5,000, imprisonment for up to a year, or both.

“Send your children to school every day. If your child is sick, notify the school and let them know what’s happening. Communicate with schools because that’s important.

 ”Parents should also get to know their children’s teachers,” said Hj Abdul Rahim previously.

Sumber - The Brunei Times

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