with the Kuala Terengganu byelection
and scouring the news
channels over the war in Gaza,
many missed out on an important
announcement made by the education
minister 10 days ago.
On Jan 9, Datuk Seri Hishammuddin
Hussein said the government
wants to mobilise the country’s
fi ve million schoolchildren
and their 360,765 teachers in a
mass rally against the atrocities
perpetrated by the Israelis.
Undoubtedly the cabinet
wants to underscore the fact that
many of the casualties from Israeli missiles
and gunfire are innocent children. Latest
available statistics show that of the 1,300
Palestinians killed, 411 were children.
While the intention may be noble and
helps to create greater awareness among
our children about the realities of the world
they live in, the whole exercise is flawed and
borders on absurdity.
The good minister is mulling cramming
thousands of schoolchildren into stadiums
much like the one in 2003 when 200,000
people, including a good number of children
gathered at Stadium Nasional, Bukit Jalil, to
protest against the US invasion of Iraq.
» Does this mean schools have to send out
200,000, or worse fi ve million consent forms
» Can the government guarantee their safety
– a pertinent issue when such mass gatherings
» And what do primary pupils understand
about Middle East politics, other than exposing
them to the graphic violence that their
counterparts have to go through?
Heck, even I am stumped by the complexities
of the issue at times.
Now, just over a month ago, the Opposition
was crucifi ed for using children in a bicycle
rally from Sungai Siput to Parliament House
to protest against the Internal Security Act.
Quite a number of us were disgusted with
this misuse of schoolchildren, many of whom
were unsure as to why they were
protesting but thought it was a
fun way to kill time during the
long school break.
When I commented on this to
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