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Suhakam: Govt should regulate safety and security in all schools

PETALING JAYA: The Government should regulate safety and security aspects in all educational institutions, including religious schools, said the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
Its chairman Tan Sri Razali Ismail (pic) said that the fire at Darul Quran Ittifaqiyah tahfiz school on Thursday that killed 21 children and two teachers was an "avoidable tragedy".
"Suhakam finds it unacceptable that the school was allowed to operate without having complied with safety and health standards and regulations; including an inspection by the Fire and Rescue Department," he said.
Razali said the tragedy is a "horrendous reminder" to the Government that all schools, including religious schools, must be regulated by the Education Ministry.
He said that all schools should adhere to procedures for setting up the school, such as fire, life safety and building codes, as well as certification of school premises.
"Whether such schools are required to undertake risk assessments to identify, among others, general fire precautions needed to safeguard the safety of occupants in case of fire, including their safe means of escape is not known," said Razali in a statement on Friday.
He added that it was Suhakam's view that fire and life safety codes are in place to prevent accidents and injuries, and to ultimately save lives.
"Therefore, individuals and agencies responsible must be held accountable for failure to ensure compliance and safety," he said.
Razali said that for actual learning to occur, the learning environment for children must be environmentally and psychologically safe.
"Children, as well as their teachers and support staff, deserve to be in a safe learning environment," said Razali.
"They have a right to be safe from accidents and potential dangers," he said.
Suhakam also expressed "deep sadness" and condolences to the victims' families.
The Education Ministry has no authority to monitor private Islamic religious schools in the country, as they come under the Islamic religious councils of the respective states.
The Ministry only has the authority to monitor national schools, Chinese and Tamil vernacular schools, national religious schools and missionary schools.
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