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'Inappropriate' for teacher to manhandle student: ITE principal

SINGAPORE — A video of an Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student seen to be manhandled by a teacher went viral online, sparking a debate among netizens on whether the teacher’s behaviour was “unacceptable”.

'Inappropriate' for teacher to manhandle student: ITE principal

Screen captures of the video that went viral online.

SINGAPORE — A video of an Institute of Technical Education (ITE) student seen to be manhandled by a teacher went viral online, sparking a debate among netizens on whether the teacher’s behaviour was “unacceptable”.

In a statement on Tuesday night (Feb 21), the ITE said the incident took place a year ago at ITE College West when the student in the video – described by the school as one who had “disruptive behaviourial issues” – had just joined the institution.

“He refused to put aside his personal laptop to do a project during practical lessons,” said ITE College West principal Dr Goh Mong Song in the statement.

The teacher in question is a training associate, who was helping a lecturer with the practical lesson. Dr Goh said he was “trying to contain the student’s behaviour so that the practical lesson would not be disrupted again”.

While this was an isolated incident, the training associate’s reaction was “inappropriate”, Dr Goh added.

“He regretted his action, had been counselled and underwent training in student management. Current and past students had commended him for his commitment and patience. The student’s classmates were also encouraged to understand and support the student.”

Dr Goh also said the student’s parents were aware of the son’s behaviour and were appreciative that the college and counselors helped him to cope better.

“We are glad that after one year, both the student and his classmates have adjusted better and learnt to be more understanding and accepting of his condition,” he said.

The video, posted by Facebook page Must Be Singapore on Tuesday, garnered more than 160,000 views and 3,600 shares since. It was captioned “teacher manhandles mentally-challenged student in ITE College West. Unhappy classmate films it down”.

The footage showed the teacher towering over a student who was playing computer games on his laptop during class. As the student continued to play despite being confronted, the teacher said “You are too much” and pulled out the student’s laptop power adaptor. When the student tried to reconnect the adaptor, the teacher grabbed the boy by his collar, leading to a brief altercation that ended with the student saying, “Can you just leave me alone?”

The teacher was heard in the video replying: “I am your teacher… If you do your project, I will leave you alone.”

While many netizens voiced their anger against the teacher’s actions, those who know him personally said he has a softer side not seen in the video, which portrayed him as a teacher who was “too physical”.

When contacted by TODAY, one of his ex-students, Mr Wang DeJia, described him as a “reputable teacher who is respected by many students” and “a very nice and well-mannered old man who cares for students”.

“Sure, what he did in the video might be a little ‘old school style’ or too physical, but what else could he do to stop that kid from playing games in class? Can we really blame him for trying to make sure that kid focus on his project?” he said.

Facebook user Aloysius’anime Lova also leapt to the teacher’s defence. “That man is my neighbour. He is a kind old man,” he wrote. “The student must have done something wrong after numerous attempts to correct him. Don’t judge others based on a video!”

A sizeable number of netizens also commented that the teacher did not go too far.

“I support the lecturer. He can choose to let the boy be, but (he) put in the effort to make sure he does his project. We need more teachers like him. I miss the teachers (from the good old days),” said Facebook user Rusdan Lee.

Facebook user, Sanada Ryu, said: “I have to side with the lecturer in this one. I feel that the kid should have respected the lecturer more and finish his project first rather than playing games on his laptop.”

Another Facebook user, Muhamad Rohaizad, said: “People (will) be blaming the lecturer for abusing and laying his hands on the students, while he’s not completing his project. Yes, it is wrong, but (it could be) that kid has not done his projects for the last few lessons.”

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