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DAP vice-president Teresa Kok found herself besieged by parents on her Facebook page after her purported criticism of the ban on primary school workbooks for Year 1 until Year 3.


Kok had previously criticised Deputy Education Minister Chong Sin Woon for announcing the ban – which will be “strictly implemented next year” – in the middle of this month.
She argued that this was unfair to “printers, teachers and parents” and that there were no discussions with relevant stakeholders.
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This, however, has resulted in a backlash from netizens.
“I am disappointed with Kok’s remark. (She) did not mention about students’ spinal health nor (how) workbooks would affect the quality of education, but (she) mentioned about the publishers’ dilemma,” replied author Koh Wee Sun in response to her Facebook post.
Netizen Ling Hong Boo also suggested Kok experience the burden of a primary school student herself before objecting to the ban.
“YB, try pulling a big bag (while) holding a few books to go up to the third floor every day… Think about it, can a primary student bear it (so many books)?” said Ling.
“The ban has been there for 17 years, do you still think it has not been studied enough?” said another netizen Foo Wai Choung.
Poh Khong Wong also urged Kok to not oppose the ban “for the sake of opposing”, but support it if it benefits the people.
When contacted, Kok insisted she will not change her position despite the criticism.
She said she was aware that many in the Chinese community have grievances over heavy school bags but stressed that the government cannot introduce new policies in an ad hoc manner without conferring with the relevant stakeholders.
“Apparently, they have not read through my statement. My argument was (that) Chong should have made the announcement earlier.
“If you are serious about implementing the (Education Ministry) guideline, which was set in 2000, it would not be dragged until now.
“Highway toll collectors made the announcement half-a-year before adopting Touch & Go, in order to let people prepare. You should have talked to the relevant parties earlier in order to avoid chaos,” she said.
Chong announced last week that primary school students in Year 1 to Year 3 will be banned from using workbooks.
Failure to abide by the latest ruling could lead to disciplinary action against teachers and headmasters.
Additional workbooks not approved by the Education Ministry are no longer allowed to be used in primary schools beginning next year.

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