In my last column, I described how the pandemic was hurting people economically (“Helping those hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia”, StarLifestyle, Aug 23,2020). Covid-19 pandemic will also hit education. More children will drop out of school, especially underprivileged children. The difficulty of continuing education online for some during the pandemic-triggered lockdown was highlighted by Sabah student Veveonah Mosibin, who had to climb a tree for better Internet access to sit for a college exam.
Dropping out of school has severe consequences, maybe even affecting crime rates. It is critical this long overlooked problem be given due attention in Malaysia. More data is urgently needed. In 2011 alone, 20,000 children dropped out of school before completing their (upper secondary level) SPM exam, Education Ministry data showed.