Ain calls for education reform to curb sexual harassment in schools

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Putrajaya has been urged to reform the education system to enhance the teachers’ awareness of sexual harassment so they would not spread toxic mindset, including making lewd remarks in schools.

Form 5 student Ain Husniza Saiful Nizam, who recently exposed her male teacher for allegedly making lewd jokes in class, made the call during a live streaming talk with Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman yesterday.

She said a revamp in the education system is needed as what had happened reflected on how female students were being exposed to possible sexual harassment in schools that largely went unreported due to lack of channels.

Citing the incident where her classmate made a rape threat against her, Ain said this toxic mindset has spread to the male students and this made them also the victims of the flawed education system.

“The men who posted disgusting and sexist comments against me were also the victims of the education system because the educators (spread) this into their mindset.

“But it wasn’t just about my school. It was about a corrupt education system and how we don’t deserve such an education system. It was never about my school in the first place.

“I hope the government will take the issue seriously by reforming the education system so that the teachers teach the right things in schools. Obviously, our teachers are not prepared well enough.

“Some had justified the issue, arguing that the awareness on sexual (assault) is a new topic. The government must ensure that the teachers are well prepared,” said the 17-year-old.

A good education system, she said, will result in an educated society which will make Malaysia an advanced country.

While many admired her courage for exposing the lewd remark by her teachers, some criticised and attacked her personality, saying she was being emotional and wanted to see the teacher lose his rice bowl.

“Teachers, we are not trying to be disrespectful or going against you. It is not teacher versus the students, but it’s every one of us versus the system,” she said.

Nevertheless, she said many teachers in her schools have done a great job and they have been very kind to her.

“We want a better education. We know that teachers have given so much, and they are the backbone of this country. Please, if you make a mistake, it’s not wrong to admit,” said Ain.

On April 24, Ain posted a video on TikTok where she said a male teacher had made jokes about rape during a physical and health education class, prompting widespread outrage on social media.

This included telling the boys in class that if they were to commit rape, they should target those above 18.

The issue had sparked the outrage of many quarters in the country, including calls for action against the teacher.

Recently, Ain was also served with a warning letter for skipping school for a few days despite her father, Saiful Nizam Ab Wahab, meeting the school authorities to explain that his daughter did not feel safe in that school.

Ain, via her movement #MakeSchoolASaferPlace, urged the people to call out any sexual harassment cases in schools.

She said she has to take up the issue as many in her school did not feel anything wrong with the distasteful remark by the teacher in the first place.

“Of course, this is not something for me to speak up, because as a student, I need to focus (on my study). However, when society failed me, then I have to take up the issue,” added Ain.

Meanwhile, she also disagreed with critics for claiming she had politicised the issue while some parties used her to gain political mileage.

Ain was also criticised for being too vocal and high profile when she shared the same stage with opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim in a live-streaming talk a few days ago.

“Some said I have political agenda when I talk to politicians. I wanted to discuss the problem with them and to ask them what they can do as politicians who have a big influence.

“Please learn how to have a healthy discussion. Stop labelling me, I am my own person, I have my own opinion. Stop looking at me with your political agenda.

“Adults, can you for once stop fighting, get together and make the school a safer place for the students?” she pleaded. – Malaysiakini