Establish an Ombudsman Child Unit with Representatives

By:

Fiqah Roslan

Affiliations:

The Tiada.Guru Campaign

Policy Code:

3d Anti corruption

Problem Statement:

Today, child victims of school-based abuse have fragile protections, zero support structures, often live in disenfranchised communities, and are primed to receive gaslighting, misleading, and victim-blaming attitudes by corrupt public servants that are hellbent on preventing civil, criminal, and/or disciplinary proceedings.

The MOE has long downplayed its legal liabilities—for good reason. Its legal exposure is unparalleled in the Malaysian government: some 10,000 schools, 4.7 million students, and 419,000+ public servants. The MOE is bound by one of the widest bodies of primary and delegated legislation: MACC Act, Penal Code, Child Act, Education Act, Public Officers (Conduct & Discipline Regulations) Act, Sexual Offences Against Children Act, and others.

Thus, why was the MOE not held accountable by Parliament, MACC, Police, Welfare Department, MOE Integrity Department, and Public Services Commission? In each, the lack of independence and severe politicization have created an implicit network that refuses to thoroughly investigate the MOE.

Value(s) and Belief(s):

Imagine how many child victims have fallen into desperation and anguish after enforcement agencies refused to investigate or prosecute.

When a child tells you something, believe them the first time: they may not tell you again.

Imagine the safety our students, parents, and teachers will feel in being able to report misconduct to an independent agency.

Proposal of Solution:

When the Public Ombudsman (PO) receives reports with child victims—and especially school-based reports where the perpetrator is a public servant—a special Child Unit in the PO must take over the case.

This PO Child Unit must contain:

 Experienced investigators with years of child witness and child survivor testimony-gathering for civil & criminal courts

 Experienced investigators with a deep understanding of the MOE’s corruption culture

 Experienced litigators able to protect and gather child witnesses in disciplinary, civil, and/or criminal proceedings

 Experienced abuse psychologists and medical officers able to both protect a victimized child and ensure evidence is protected

Further, the PO Child Unit should expand over time to include PO Officers placed in critically underserved schools to both investigate misconduct and enforce a safe learning environment.

At the school, these PO Officers gather anonymous and direct reports from teachers, students, and parents; gather evidence; establish whistleblower protection; and wield disciplinary jurisdiction over all school officers.

A non-exhaustive list of such critically underserved schools: high Orang Asli population, high OKU student population, high impoverished/B40 population, poor local governance/quality of public service, or schools with a history of serious and/or long-term misconduct.

Because families can finally expect an independent oversight system, Child Ombudsman Units are often overwhelmed with demand shortly after launching and thus quickly show their effectiveness, a rarity in public policy (UNESCO 2017/8 GEM report; page 31).

Translation

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