Sports day often turned out to be a mini Olympics, thanks to our imagination and enthusiasm. We had a whale of a time during recess, often wondering why friends’ lunch boxes seemed more enticing than ours.
Naturally, getting up early to prepare for school was an irritating task and receiving punishment for being late was a bit of a downer. Yet, it was all worth it because of the friends — our childhood friends, who have proven to be real pals, unlike those we encountered when we entered the workforce — we meet every day. Many Malaysians often say that the best moments of their lives were spent in school.
Many Malaysians often say that the best moments of their lives were spent in school. File pix by IQMAL HAQIM ROSMAN. RECOMMENDED
The recollection of their time in the classroom, school field and with friends remain fresh in the minds of many, often shared each time they gather for a reunion.
They see the school as their second home. Education should be a wonderful experience and not a terrifying one.
Yet, for many young Malaysians today, reminiscing about their childhood would most likely be a painful experience.
They would have few colourful stories to make friends and loved ones laugh, and school reunions are occasions to open old emotional wounds and bring fresh pain in their lives.
They would remember their schools as places where they lost their confidence and carefree ways. They would need hours of therapy for a complete attitude reversal and heal those past scars.
Recent media reports suggest that Malaysian schools are increasingly becoming unsafe for the young — the range of unwelcome things include bullying, gangsterism, truancy, faulty equipment and food poisoning outbreaks.
School administrators and teachers also have to deal with mass hysteria cases, snake bites, mercury contamination, suspected student involvement in terrorism and the shocking alleged rape of a schoolgirl in Malacca by two older pupils.
When violence and other petrifying occurrences emerge in school, they prohibit learning. Some pupils, especially the victims, do not show up because they are frightened.
Those who do not stay away become distracted. They spend their energy worrying. This cannot continue, and keeping pupils, teachers, other staff and visitors safe is something we should care about. How to do it without turning our schools into armed fortresses?
The school head’s first job is to keep pupils out of harm’s way and safety starts with strong leadership. The school administrator and those under his watch must always follow the standard operating procedures because if they do not, they may be liable if something goes wrong.
This include taking precautions to prevent crises and making tough decisions when the unexpected happens. The question is, how many Malaysian schools are observing this practice?
Granted, principals have an important role to play, but they require assistance not only from their staff, but parents as well.
As a society, we must do everything we can to give young learners and teachers the safe spaces they need.