Acknowledging that the Education Ministry’s implementation of e-learning was a good move to carry out lessons, NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan, however, said turning to online learning has created problems for students from the B40 group as well as teachers in rural schools.
Some of them also come from broken families, are orphans or are special needs students, which makes things worse, he said.
“These students do not have Internet, computers, printers and electronic gadgets so they get left behind in online learning.
“Teachers in the villages and outskirts also find it hard to get stable Internet access to carry out lessons, while those in urban areas say their students find online lessons boring,” he said, adding that teachers are also dealing with the lack of support from parents and the unconducive learning environment their students face.
Teachers, he said, are pressured by their superiors to achieve the Key Performance Index amid the movement control order (MCO).
Some department heads have given permission to teachers to return to school to pick up materials for lessons, he said. But this has led to students returning to collect reference books that are needed for the online classes.
“Public Services Department director-general Datuk Mohd Khairul Adib Abd Rahman has said that the head or supervisors cannot instruct any officers to go out to work.
“NUTP hopes that the ministry will look into this.”
Calling on the ministry to come up with a guide of pedagogical practices that employ social distancing methods for teachers, he said this needs to be done immediately.
This is necessary or teachers will face a lot of uncertainty when schools reopen.
“Social distancing will be the ‘new normal’ post-MCO.
“It is not enough to just have a set of guidelines for teachers to follow.
“All teachers must be able to diagnose a problem, set an action plan to resolve it, get feedback and assessment, adjust along the way and move forward to implement directives confidently,” he said.
Among the issues teachers will face once schools reopen is how to conduct group activities or lessons with a human touch, he said.
How will teachers carry out guidance and counselling, or teach when everyone is wearing face masks, he asked.
“All pedagogical techniques are based on teachers being facilitators while students are the active participants.
“Lots of research exists for distance learning but there is barely anything on social distancing in classrooms.”
Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said the post-MCO school management guide is at its last stages of discussions.
“Student safety is our priority. Discussions with various parties including the Health Ministry have been on-going and we are reaching the final stage.
“We are looking into details such as the cut-off temperature reading of students allowed to enter school grounds, steps to handling students with Covid-19 symptoms, social distancing in class, splitting of large classes, teacher arrangements, which staircases are to be used as exit or entry points and more,” he said in an interview which aired on Monday.
The ministry, he added, has been putting in effort to ensure these details are not overlooked.