While PIBGs are “administered” locally, they are heavily repressed by school officers.
We must return local agency and power; many parents are ready to fight for justice. Imagine if parents could schedule PIBG meetings with school representatives and air their concerns directly before problems became egregious.
Many PIBG Constitutions forbid any dissent against the school's administration, i.e., "G" in PIBG.
“Although PTAs are permitted to introduce curricular and co-curricular activities in schools, there are clauses indicating that they cannot interfere with a school’s administration or use the association as a means to air their dissent over the school’s principal, staff members or even the Education Ministry itself.” (source)
PIBGs today are wholly one-sided affairs, with schools setting agendas, speakers, dates / times, frequency of meetings: it has clearly become a “PG” with no “IB”, with some principals even [openly attacking parents and denying them entry to school meetings. No known MOE action was taken against such disturbing misconduct as far as public.
Why are Malaysia’s parent-teacher associations banned from advocating for their children’s well-being if it involves the school administration? Why are we preventing transparency and accountability on a local level? A school’s administration is a key factor to their children's’ well-being, from schedule arrangements, course load, and then of course negligence and abuse.
Why are we totally disarming parents and teachers from whistleblowing to the larger community? We need united parents to confront a united Federal Government: otherwise, when parents plead one by one, the power imbalance is too strong. Multiple examples are available of parents and students have been intimidated, threatened, and/or have withdrawn their complaints after MOE threats.
While PIBGs do have locally administered AGMs composed of teachers, parents, and school administrators, it is not enough.
We must establish, through reform of the Education (Parent-Teacher Associations) Regulations 1998 and Education Act 1996, that:
- PIBG Constitutions cannot forbid dissent or discussions by parents nor teachers on any topics regarding the school, its administrators, or any misconduct, claimed or otherwise.
- School administrators cannot have any power to remove parents nor discipline teachers that speak up about the above issues.
- PIBGs should be allowed to work together with other PIBGs to discuss issues and organize together for community actions.
- PIBGs must create publicly and online-accessible minutes that any parent may view and/or respond to.
- PIBGs must create a set of efficient guidelines to ensure parents can speak as needed. Today, hours are wasted as school officers give long remarks that simply should be sent to a PIBG messaging group (i.e., WhatsApp); likewise meetings must be arranged at a time voted on by the parents of the communities, not purely on the school’s convenience.
- PIBGs should be able to be summoned by parents for specific critical issues with adequate notice (e.g., two weeks); a school representative with decision-making authority (i.e., only the school principal) must attend.
With these substantive changes, we hope to significantly improve the attendance (online or virtual) of PIBGs. There is no reason that working families should be shut out of the community, transparent administration, and fair discussion that PIBGs were initially designed for.