Adam is starting school tomorrow afternoon. He has been admitted to the school of our choice. Finally. And without that elusive "form" demanded by the school as well as the Pejabat Pelajaran Selangor. The final drama played out early last week when we were at the Pejabat again. "Mana form?" We finally managed to see the pegawai in charge of Chinese schools. He too asked for the form. He too was confused. He called the school and spoke to the headmistress. He finally said, "Your son is named Adam, right? I approved his registration two weeks ago already. So I also do not know what is the problem." More talking on the phone to the headmistress. Finally"...okay la you can go to the school on Monday. Semua okay."
Thank you all for your kind support and encouragement. By the way, nobody replied to the request below.
Can somebody help us all by forwarding this blog post and comments to the Minister of Education, Minister in charge of monitoring the KPI...ah what the hell!! The Prime Minister as well la. Or give me the various email addresses which I can't seem to find and I will forward this to them, Thank you.
The order of the day at Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor, Kelana Jaya.
When I arrived at the Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor in Kelana Jaya Centrepoint yesterday morning I sort of knew that it was going to be not such a nice day. I was there to ascertain why my son, Adam's registration for Std 1 in 2010 was taking so long to process. And it was less than 3 weeks to schools re-opening. He still didn't have a confirmed place in the school of our choice. Or any other school for that matter. We had been told earlier in the month when we registered Adam at the school that we should wait for confirmation from the Education Department which will send us a letter of confirmation in the self-addressed envelope we provided for the purpose. So we waited. And nothing happened which was the reason I found myself at the Jabatan yesterday morning.
My wife and I had been there once before and had a taste of the less-than-enthusiastic service provided by the staff in the Jabatan lobby. We could have called the number given on the form for such enquiries. Except that the number given was almost perpetually engaged and when the call was connected nobody picked up the phone. There is a good reason for this which I shall tell you later. Now, back to the morning's visit.
A multi-tasking pegawai Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor. Propping up the ladder. Holding the banner and speaking on the handphone. All at the same time. Wah!On arrival I noticed that there was a hive of activity around the entrance to the Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor. On closer scrutiny I saw that there were a group of 3-4 pegawai (officers) making rather amateurish and vain attempts at putting up a bright yellow banner across the entrance. The banner informed that there was to be an official visit by the Pengarah Pelajaran Selangor (Director of Education of Selangor - what a grand title eh?) later that afternoon for the jabatan's peresmian (opening, launch...whatever.)
First thought that came to my mind, "Shit! There goes any work and service for the public today!" Then I took a closer look at the 'team'. 4 officers. How do I know they were officers, and quite high level ones too? They all wore long sleeved shirts and gawdy unfashionable ties and had extra large name tags on their breast pockets. And so, 4 officers of the Selangor Education Department were engaged in putting up a banner to welcome their 'boss' la. Oh I forgot to mention that there were also another 4 female pegawai's watching their colleagues struggle with the big yellow banner. So who's doing the work for the day? Or is the VIP visit the work of the day?
My wife took a queue number and waited in line. We were the 10th in the queue. Since we only needed to ask a simple question which probably required a simple answer which would take all of 7 seconds I decided to walk over to the banner-hanging pegawai's. The one I approached was quite eager to be helpful. I related my request and he waved his colleague over and asked him to assist me. We followed this guy back to the counter. Related our problem. Adam needs to have his registration confirmed for the 2010 school year.
Peg: Oh cam tu ya? Nama? Sijil pelahiran?
(we handed those over. the pegawai proceeds to start clicking buttons on the computer keyboard. Then a chilling look came over his face. You know that type of look that you get from someone you're confident of knowing his work and suddenly shows that he isn't exactly sure what he is doing? He clicks some more buttons......became more puzzled...)
Peg: (to his colleague) Eh! Mengapa cam ni ah?
(another guy comes over and says something to him that I could not hear.)
Peg #2: This case you have to get chop from the school on birth cert. Your child birth cert don't have chop. And we don't have record of your son's registration. Sekolah mesti bagi chop kalau sudah berdaftar. Kita taada record la. Lagi baik you balik tanya sekolah.
(My wife and I muttered some rather strong words under our breath and moved away from the counter. We drove to our next appointment across town. On the drive we called the school to relate to the kerani (clerk) in charge of registration what Peg #2 had said.)
Kerani: No, we only bagi chop selepas registration da approved. Kita sudah hantar borang berdaftaran ke jabatan pelajaran da.
After having lunch we drove back to the Jabatan in Kelana Jaya to try and sort out the mess that was fast building up. It was 2.30 pm. This time there were even more pegawai's standing at the entrance. Some even in jackets. My wife took a queue number. I decided to approach one of the suits with a big name tag.
Me: Excuse me Encik....
Big Peg: (Sternly) Apa? Pegi beratur sana. (What? Go queue up there.)
Me: Excuse me are you an officer here?
Big Peg: (Getting pissed off a bit) Ya.
Me: Why are you so rude?
Big Peg: (Starting to get even more pissed off......)
Me: (changing tactic a bit) So sorry to disturb you, sir. But may I ask which department you represent?
Big Peg: Pengurusan Sekolah( schools management)
Me (thinking: Perfect!)
The Big Peg begrudgingly said something which merely meant that I should go stand in the queue and wait my turn. Okay.
While I was in line I saw the VIP guest arrive with his entourage. The big wig. The state director of education. Coming to check out the new office. They were ushered into a VIP holding room which was in the lobby area and had glass walls so all can watch the proceedings inside. I watched. The usual posturing. Bows, limp handshakes, forced smiles.
I decided to exercise a right. I went up to the tudung-ed lady guarding the door.
Me: Excuse me. Is that the Pengarah Pelajaran?
TL: Yes. Ada apa hal?
Me: I would like to speak to him
TL: Sorry you cannot. He is having a meeting.
(I wave to the pengarah. He waved back to signal that I cannot proceed. I opened the door anyway.....)
Me: Excuse me Dr. XXXX. My name is Patrick. I understand you are the state education director. May I ask you a question as a member of the Rakyat?
DES: Oh yes, come in. You're the...apa namanya...actor ya? Ya? Ada apa hal? Come, come duduk, duduk....
I proceeded to inform him that all I wanted as a parent and a member of the Rakyat is to know what is the education department's procedure for registering children for school when they move from one part of Selangor to another.
Me: The school tells me this and your pegawai tells me that. As a parent I am worried.
While this short conversation was going on, the Big Peg I met earlier who was also in room probably because he was the local big shot was getting was getting really upset that I had managed to invade the big VIP gathering despite being told to queue at the counter. But ....
DES: (after listening to me...) Oh tu takde masaalah. Kan? (looking over at Big Peg) Kasi selesaikan la. Ya?
After the big pronouncement from the VIP there were smiles all round the room as all the pegawai's gathered felt more comfortable that my intrusion wasn't going to be an issue with the boss. I said my thank you's and went back to the counter. This time the pegawai at the counter seemed to be a little more friendly and helpful. He'd seen me in the room with the Pengarah.
Peg#2: Ini masaalah kecil je. Tak payar pegi jumpa pengarah. Ini kita boleh selesaikan. Senang je. Encik bagi nombor talipon, saya akan call balik selepas I dapat keterangan case ni.
Me: Bila encik nak talipon?
Mr. Saya-talipon-esok. Suitable togged up for the big boss's visit. First time I met him he was just in shirt sleeves.
As we left the Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor, Kelana Jaya Centrepoint we past another couple trying to explain to the button clicking pegawai their predicament. It was almost exactly the same as ours. The father was trying to explain that he didn't have time to make many visits to the Jabatan and to shuttle from school to jabatan numerous times. He was a blue collar worker and could not afford to take time off or his family would have no food on the table for the day. But this father was a good Malaysian. Non-confrontational. He would accept what the Tuan Pegawai told him. Polite. He would never think of barging into the Pengarah Pelajaran Selangor's VIP reception. His family will go hungry for a few days before his daughter gets to go to school.
The pegawai will just shrug and click some more buttons on the keyboard.
p/s it is now 3:37 pm. The 'esok' call has not come yet. In the meantime, my wife went to the school and was told that my son has already been allocated a place in Std 1, 2010. All they needed now was the approval letter from...where?
Jabatan Pelajaran Selangor!!!
This is the state of things in Malaysia? That even after the Pengarah 'selesai' things, they still don't get done.
Them: Hiyah! Masaalah kecil je? Jangan risau. Tunggu la.
Us: Baik, tuan.
Them: Now fuck off.