Malaysian Ex-Students Emerge Victorious In Lawsuit Against English Teacher Who Went MIA For Months
Most students would rejoice when their teacher doesn’t show up for class. However, what happens when the teacher goes MIA for seven months?
For one group of former students in Sabah, Malaysia, they decided to sue that teacher.
Almost three years after filing the suit, the trio has finally won their case in an unprecedented victory.
The students hope that this case will motivate others to speak up and know their rights.
Malaysian ex-students win lawsuit against English teacher
The New Straits Times (NST) reported that Rusiah Sabdarin, Nur Natasha Allisya Hamali, and Calvina Angayung filed the lawsuit against their English language teacher Mohd Jainal Jamran on 7 Dec 2020.
The trio, who were students at SMK Taun Gusi, Kota Belud, claimed that Mohd Jainal did not turn up to teach their class for a period of seven months in 2017.
They were 16 years old at the time.
Other authorities involved in the case had allegedly also failed to take reasonable action despite being aware of the matter.
These include former school principal Suid Hanapi, the Education Ministry director-general, the Education Minister, and the government.
All five parties, including Mohd Jainal, were named as defendants in the case.
On Wednesday (19 July), the plaintiffs’ lawyer released the High Court’s judgement to the media.
The Star reported that after hearing the evidence and submissions from all parties, Justice Leonard David Shim granted the students’ claims.
Delivering his judgement, he said that they had proved their case on a balance of probabilities.
By failing to prepare the students for their examinations, the defendants had breached their statutory duties under the Education Act.
In addition, the ex-principal was in breach of his duties under the Public Officers Regulation 1993.
Ordered to pay damages
Justice Shim went on to note that the defendants’ actions had disrupted the students’ access to education. This access is a guarantee for them under the Federal Constitution.
As such, he ordered all five defendants to pay nominal damages of RM30,000 (S$8,700) and aggravated damages of RM20,000 (S$5,800) both jointly and severally to the students.
Justice Shim noted that the case included issues of a fundamental constitutional right to education and matters of public interest.
As such, the court would not be making any order regarding costs.
Ex-students hopes lawsuit will empower others to speak up
In a statement after their victory, Ms Calvina said that she and her classmates had failed their English exams as a result of Mohd Jainal’s frequent absences.
Today, justice has been upheld.
She added that she hopes this will encourage other people to speak up when they face injustice.
“May today’s victory prove that our rights as citizens of the country are protected and respected,” she said.
Ms Rusiah added that she hopes the school authorities will check on teachers’ presence in schools and take students’ complaints seriously.
My hope is that students will be empowered to speak up and know their rights as students.
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Featured image adapted from The New Straits Times.
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