Students and staff at schools and institutes of higher learning (IHLs) who experience any form of discrimination should not hesitate to flag such instances to their institution immediately, said Second Minister for Education Maliki Osman in Parliament on Monday (5 July).
Responding to Parliamentary questions on the procedures and avenues available for addressing racism and discrimination within these institutions, Mr Osman stressed: “Our institutions have clear guidelines against unprofessional and discriminatory conduct.”
Stressing that respect is an integral part of the code of conduct for both students and staff in IHLs, Mr Osman said that there are feedback channels and processed for those who experience racial discrimination in such institutions.
Such channels include either approaching senior staff or a faculty member in person, via emails, or using a formal feedback mechanism.
“In schools, students are informed that they can raise any issues to their teachers or any staff member,” asserted Mr Osman.
“In IHLs, information on feedback channels are broadcasted on various platforms including institutions, websites student handbook, and portal. Students are also informed about these feedback channels during enrolment and orientation briefings.”
He explained that all students and staff can choose to remain anonymous when providing feedback or reporting any incident, though added that they are still encouraged to identify themselves to allow for a thorough investigation to be conducted.
“Students and staff have the assurance that they will be supported and protected and that their feedback will be handled sensitively and in strict confidence,” he assured.
Additionally, Mr Osman outlined certain measures institutions may implement to maintain campus safety and the safety of those involved in an incident.
Such measures include issuing a no-contact order between the complainant and the perpetrator, or temporarily suspending the perpetrator from campus while an investigation is carried out.
Mr Osman added that counselling would also be provided to affected persons, while those who have been found to breach the code of conduct would be disciplined and counselled accordingly.
The Second Minister went on to assert that institutions will continue to strengthen their feedback processes and encourage students to speak up on any incidents of discrimination.
“Their curriculum policies in MOE, schools, and IHLs are also regularly reviewed taking into consideration feedback from educators, students, and parents through regular engagement sessions,” he added.
“Beyond efforts in schools and IHLs, parents and community groups also play a crucial role in supporting students to stand up against acts of discrimination and not be afraid to raise any issues to their respective institutions,” concluded Mr Osman.