“We understand that to date, 10 pre-school staff have tested positive for coronavirus. And the testing is not complete yet and will only be completed by the end of the month,” wrote Mr Lim (Tean), arguing that the number of cases are expected to rise. He then questioned why Mr Ong did not seem to consider this as an increased risk for young children....
“Parents have every right to ensure the safety of their children and if they do not feel comfortable in sending their children to school at this point in time, what right has Ong Ye Kung to force them to do so?” said Mr Lim....'
Above are a few paragraphs in theindependent.sg that raised concerns about school opening in the midst of the Covid19 pandemic. Attending school is compulsory, not voluntary, according to Ong Ye Kung. On the other hand, Lim Tean was saying that given the risk of Covid19, this should not be and parents have the right to protect their children.
Assuming that the govt, in this case the Minister of Education, would have the final say and the law is behind him, school attendance is compulsory and not attending would lead to some penalty or punishment, how should this be dealt with.
In the armed forces, NS is compulsory by law and absence or AWOL means jail terms or minor cases mean detention barracks. Going to school is compulsory but not really in the same category. Can't imagine children sent to detention barrack, but not entirely true. Remember detention classes or being retained back in school as a form of punishment?
How is the MOE going punish school children that went AWOL? The consent of parents to keep their children away from school is no excuse. AWOL is AWOL. There must be cases when children were not sent to school due to poverty, or parents having financial difficulties and unable to afford to do so. Providing financial assistance in a way would help in such cases.
In the context of safety from the virus, would the parents be punished and what kind of punishment should they decide not to send their children to school? Does the Minister have authority to punish the parents for making such a decision?
Or should the AWOL children be punished instead and how? The Minister has made it very clear that school attendance is compulsory and not up to the choice of the parents and children. What if they just vote with their feet, ignored this compulsory requirement and backed by law? The Minister cannot say nothing can be done and move on. If this is so, then what is all the hooha about compulsory attendance? A policy like this and backed by law must also be matched with the ability and will to enforce.
There must be penalties or punishment to the parents or to the school children. It would be interesting to know what MOE or the Minister has in mind in dealing with delinquent children with parental support or how to deal with such parents. Ong Ye Kung has made his position very clear, it is not an option. So what is he going to do about it when this edict is violated?