A homework assignment on consumerism for an 8-year-old girl leaves her mother shocked and bewildered. Our correspondent, the mother, has the story.
It was one of ‘those’ days about three weeks ago, when my 8-year old daughter duly informed me that I was assigned some of her school homework. After a long day at work, I marvelled at the way she coolly delegated her homework to me. And I thought that only my office boss could delegate work to me. What a fallacy!
My homework that night was to log into my Internet connection and access a website listed in the following textbook:
Bahasa Melayu Tahun 2
Buku Teks, Jilid 2
Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka (2006)
Authors: Abdul Jalil bin Othman and Faizul Mashura binti Ismail
Editors: Zaleha binti Hussain & Fazilah binto Mohamedeni
According to my daughter, the class teacher had asked those who had an Internet connection at home to access the site and discuss the online content the next day. There seemed to be no other specific instructions. After taking a look at the website address, my gut feeling told me that something was amiss.
So I decided to access the site without the presence of my daughter. A good thing that I followed my gut feeling for lo and behold, the website address pointed to various pornographic sites. I double-checked, used a different web browser, called up another parent (who did not do the homework), and rang a friend. Everyone who accessed the website address reconfirmed my discovery. What was supposed to be a website on consumerism (Fomca) turned out to be X-rated.
Trying to convince my daughter that the ‘anglefire’ website was “invalid” was another challenge in itself. She insisted that I show her the “invalid” message displayed on the website and I had to concoct creative excuses to assure her that it was perfectly okay not to complete her ‘homework’ that night. I know that I did not convince her totally. In retrospect, I am just thankful that I did not have to explain the birds and the bees prematurely to her had I let her surf on her own.
Soon after, I duly informed the school about this grave error. Armed with the textbook, I insisted on the Senior Assistant (who was the most senior person in the office at that time) accessing the website according to what was printed in the textbook. I told him that I could not explain the problem unless he sees the website like how I saw it.
He seemed taken aback with the colourful display of images and links. He took a second look and perhaps, a third. He then looked at me and said “Alamak, ini kinky punya website!” (Whoever said the standard of English is low in 1Malaysia…. ‘kinky’ was in his vocabulary list!).
And my response was “Ya la, Encik, dan ini homework untuk darjah dua. Ini masalah besar.” Up to now, I cannot figure out the teaching methodology of this class teacher.
Two hours after I was at the school, the headmaster rang me to explain the actions that he had taken. The Education Ministry and also Dewan Bahasa dan Pustaka had been informed. Personally, I am not convinced that anything will be done effectively. The text book is still with my daughter. Malaysia’s censorship board should be activated and be kept busy blacking out the website address from this text book nation-wide. They have demonstrated their great “blacking-out” skills with magazines like TIME.
It was so ironic reading an article in the Star (17 August, page N8) titled ‘Need for sex education to combat social ills, says council (Malaysian Council for Child Welfare)’. There is a renewed interest in sex education due to more cases of baby dumping. It makes me wonder if the website link provided is part of a brilliant, if peverse, plan for sex education for 8-year old school children in 1Malaysia.
(Note: The real Fomca website is at http://fomca.org.my/, but presumably prior to that, they used a free web-hosting site, which can be found at http://www.angelfire.com/me/fomca/. But in the text book, a typo in ‘angelfire’ proved disastrous and points the surfer to a porn site.)
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