Infernal Ramblings
A Malaysian Perspective on Politics, Society and Economics

Educationists Defraud a Charity

Written by johnleemk on 1:57:39 pm Apr 27, 2007.

Not too long ago, my former secondary school was involved in a fund-raising event for a particular charity. (To protect the guilty and innocent, neither the school nor the charity will be named.)

The charity organised a competition amongst students from different secondary schools to see who would help it raise the most money. My former classmates were among the participants, and enthusiastically organised the event with some token assistance from the school (mainly in the form of providing the venue for the event; they did little else).

The day before the event — which was heavily publicised on the radio and in the newspapers — the school informed the organising committee that the event would not be held in the school because of certain religious concerns. Thus, my classmates were forced to locate a new venue for the event within a few hours, and hope that they would not lose too many potential donors because of this snafu.

The event was fortunately not a disaster, and a not-insignificant sum of money was raised. My classmates had earlier promised the charity that all the proceeds of the event would be donated to the charity's cause.

Naturally, this made the less-than-helpful school not very happy. A few days after the event, the teacher in charge of advising the organising committee told them that she wanted half of the proceeds for the school.

When the students protested, reminding the teacher that they had promised to donate all the proceeds to the charity, and that the school had done virtually nothing for the event, the teacher chided them for not being loyal to the school. She also threatened to tell the judges of the charity's competition that the committee was inefficient and incompetent.

A number of people had also donated some goods for the fundraising event; not all of these supplies were used up. The same teacher also insisted that these leftover donations be given to the school co-operative, which would then sell them for pure profit (having acquired the goods at no cost).

Now, I know that our schools are cash-strapped. But really, what kind of low-life bunch of educators wants to fraudulently appropriate money and goods donated to a charity for their own purposes?

I honestly don't know how common this sort of thing is. But another classmate of mine, whose mother herself is a secondary school teacher, nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders and muttered something along the lines of "biasalah".

The situation is not yet resolved. My former classmates are totally in over their heads; they have no idea how to proceed, when they are being blackmailed by their own teacher to defraud the public who donated their money, effort and goods to what they thought was a charitable cause.

The fund-raising drive was not titled the "Fundraising Drive for SMK X". It was explicitly meant for the charity in question, and I bet that if you ask the donors, no more than a minuscule handful would have expected any of their contributions to end up in the hands of the school instead of the charity.

I truly find this appalling, and it makes me ashamed to have been a student of that school, and a student of that teacher. But in the end, this anecdote is just another statistic — yet another incident of unscrupulous educators wasting their time on totally pointless and meaningless efforts, instead of devoting their efforts to teaching.

I still remember being coerced into signing a petition in form one. My then secondary school (not the one which is trying to defraud the charity) announced that it would be circulating a petition against the Iraq war for students to sign.

Being ambivalent about the invasion (I really could not care less for Saddam and his dictatorial regime), I didn't intend to sign the petition. Another one of my friends actually supported the war.

However, when our class monitors came around, they told us we had no choice but to sign. If we did not sign, then their asses would be on the line, and thus so would ours. Shrugging, we signed, and became yet another pawn in the struggle of educators to waste the time of their students.

Our schools are not and should not be hotbeds of advocacy. If they should be hotbeds of advocacy at all, there should never be any compulsion or coercion. And there certainly should not be fraud.

It's an admirable cause, raising funds for your own school. But raising funds by lying to potential donors and defrauding a charity? I really cannot say anything more.

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