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Ex-students hail court victory against absentee teacher

Calvina Angayung, Nur Natasha Allisya Hamali and Rusiah Sabdarin had sued their former English teacher for a seven-month no-show in class.

2 minute read
Three former students have won their suit against a teacher who was absent from class for seven months. Photo: Pexels
Three former students have won their suit against a teacher who was absent from class for seven months. Photo: Pexels

Three former students of a secondary school in Kota Belud who won a suit against their absentee teacher hope that the case will serve as a lesson to all quarters to fulfil their responsibilities.

One of the plaintiffs, Calvina Angayung, 22, voiced hope that the victory would motivate others who keep silent to stand up for their rights.

"We were the victims of the injustice of this teacher, which resulted in our failure in an English language examination. This victory is a gift to all who have been supporting us since the beginning.

"I would like to say thank you to our witnesses, who bravely appeared to testify in court, NGOs and activists, parents, friends and the community out there who have been supported us no matter where we are," she said when contacted.

Another plaintiff, Nur Natasha Allisya Hamali, said she was relieved, even though it took them six years, that their efforts were not futile. She also thanked all quarters for their victory.
In 2020, Calvina, Nur Natasha Allisya and Rusiah Sabdarin, all aged 22, sued their former English teacher, Mohd Jainal Jamran, who failed to turn up to teach at secondary school for seven months in 2017, when the girls were 16.

They also sued the school's then principal, Suid Hanapi; the education director-general; the education ministry and the government.

On July 19, Kota Kinabalu High Court judge Leonard David Shim, in allowing their suit, ruled that the defendants had breached their statutory duties and violated the former students’ constitutional guarantee to education.

The court awarded RM150,000 in total damages to the three plaintiffs.

Lawyer Sherzali Herza Asli, who represented the plaintiffs, said it was important for the government to recognise deficiencies and formulate policies to ensure the accountability of errant teachers for the well-being and prospects of the country's future generation.

Meanwhile, Entrepreneur Development and Cooperation Minister Ewon Benedick said that those within a school ecosystem have their individual responsibilities.

He said teachers are responsible for being present in class and teaching, and that failure to do so must be supported by valid reasons.

"While students should possess the discipline to respect teachers, they should have the opportunity to speak up to their parents who will raise matters to the parent-teacher association on services rendered at the school," he said.