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Two student deaths in a week!
Published on: Monday, February 18, 2019
By: Iffah Dilaney

KOTA KINABALU: Two student deaths within a week here and in Labuan have raised serious questions over the extent to which schools are really concerned about their safety during school activities.

Barely a week after a 14-year-old boy drowned during swimming lessons, a 16-year-old of SMK Rancha-Rancha collapsed and died in the midst of partaking in the school’s sports meet at the Labuan Matriculation College, Sunday morning.

Labuan police chief Supt Muhamad Farid Ahmad said Norsahfiza Jaratin was participating in the 200 metres sprint when she fell unconscious about 20 meters before the finish line.

One of the teachers provided first aid but she was still unconscious and was pronounced dead minutes after she was rushed to hospital.

It was not known if the student in the Labuan tragedy was a victim of sunstroke or dehydration due to the current hot weather, in addition to being unwell.

According to the victim’s uncle, he learnt that she complained to her friends at school that she was not feeling well and that this was relayed to the teacher concerned.

“However, according to what I was told by a witness, the teacher took the complaint lightly and told the victim that it was only a 200-metre run,” said the uncle, who wished anonymity. 

He also questioned why there were no medics on standby.

Daily Express had been receiving complaints by parents of schools subjecting their children to assemble under the scorching afternoon sun without even a cap to protect them.

One parent who complained about a Penampang school which held its event at the sports stadium on Saturday said her child with hundreds of others had to stand under the hot sun at 1pm to carry out march past.

“As if this was not torture, they were also forced to listen to long boring speeches, including by a former Penampang YB. 

“How nice if the teachers and guests were seated under the sun while the students were under the shade so they know how it is like,” said the parent.

Late last year, Kapayan Assemblywoman Datuk Jannie Lasimbang, was forced to deny that 10 students fainted because they were forced to line up under the hot sun to welcome her representative who arrived two hours late for the SJKC Shan Tao annual sports meet.

She claimed that her representative arrived on time but that the students probably fainted because “it was a hot day and they probably started their programme earlier.” She also claimed that her representative did show up on time.

 Meanwhile, the Education Ministry has ordered Kinabalu International School (KIS) to provide a full report on the drowning incident.

In a statement, Sunday, the Ministry said the State Education Department would also visit the school today (Monday) to gather more information about the tragedy.

“The Ministry expresses its sincere condolences to the victim’s family and we hope they will find strength during this difficult time,” said the statement.

“We have received an initial report from KIS’ management on Feb. 15. However, the report did not mention the cause of the incident.

“As such, the Ministry had instructed the State Education Department to obtain detailed information from the school.”

The Ministry had also asked the school management to provide their full cooperation to the police who are investigating the case.

The 14-year-old student was undergoing a swimming lesson with a teacher, swimming coach and a group of other students when he drowned at Likas Sports Complex.

The victim was rushed to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital II at noon where a doctor, after giving him breathing treatment, confirmed he passed away 38 minutes later.

The boy’s father, Chong Kam Fei said he is seeking answers from the school over the incident.

The businessman also wanted to know about the supervision of the teachers, as well as whether there were lifeguards or swimming instructors around.

He said from what he gathered from his son’s classmates, the students shouted for help when they saw the boy struggling. 

However, the swimming instructor was at another pool and not where the children were.

The Ministry said while it encourages co-curriculum activities, including swimming, the safety aspect must be given attention. - Iffah Dilaney

 



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