School toilets are, quite possibly, the absolute worst. Just ask anyone who's ever been to or studied at a sekolah kebangsaan, they'd probably tell you the same.
Trust us, the overwhelming stench is the least of your worries.
So it made no sense to many when it emerged that a top school in Penang is charging students 30 cents per entry to the school's toilets. At least, that's what FB page Penang Kini claimed is the case.
According to the post, which was posted on 14 January, the matter was brought to their attention by a disgruntled parent of one of the school's students. The post also alleged that the decision was made by the school's Parent-Teacher Association (PIBG) and alumni, so students who do not wish to pay are not allowed to use the school's toilets.
The school in question is SMK (P) St. George, more commonly known as St. George's Girls' School (SGGS), which has been conferred the title of High Performance School (Sekolah Berprestasi Tinggi) in 2010
The post quickly became viral, with many lambasting the school for being greedy especially since the cost of living is on the rise. Some also angrily demanded that the state's education board investigate the matter.
However, a teacher from the school stepped up to clear up several misconceptions about Penang Kini's accusation. According to him, students only need to pay 20 cents (not 30) if they choose to use a recently renovated bathroom.
In the comments section of the post, the teacher wrote that there are many free toilets available for students and teachers in the school. He highlighted that the paid toilets have recently been renovated and that charges are imposed to keep them nice and clean. In fact, even teachers are required to pay to use them!
He also stated that this is the administration's last resort to educate students in keeping the toilets clean after various other methods employed have been unsuccessful in the past.
His words were echoed by parents of the school's students, who also said that they have been duly informed of the matter from their children
According to a source, the premium toilets were mainly reserved for guests and VIPs. On normal days, students are only allowed to use the toilets during recess and are required to write their names in a logbook besides paying 20 cents per entry.
It was also understood that the money collected will go into helping the school's disabled students and covering future renovation costs.
In the Facebook post, former students of the school voiced their agreement of the school's decision, sharing their experiences from the different methods implemented to keep the toilets clean during their school years
Some remembered a time when they had to pay 5 cents to use the bathrooms, which were said to be very well-kept and clean. Others recounted the times they had to change into clogs before entering the ladies and/or cubicle assignments for each class, where students could only use a toilet cubicle assigned to their class if they had the key and a pass for it.
Some pointed out that the "disgruntled parent" who'd complained to Penang Kini should have brought the matter up to the school's PIBG first instead of providing misleading information to the portal
According to one of the comments in the post, the issue of dirty toilets was always in the agenda during annual PIBG meetings. It further pointed out that when the school administration and PIBG acted on a solution that is agreed upon by the majority of those who attended the meetings, while those who disagreed with it did not even attend the meetings in the first place.
Adding to that, many demanded that Penang Kini issue an apology for publishing misleading information and tarnishing the school's image, as well as to stop trying to politicising the issue and to take the post down immediately
At the time of writing, our source revealed that officials from the State Education Board (JPN) visited the school on 15 January, Friday morning. The toilet can now be accessed for free, but is still only open during recess.