New norms for all when schools reopen

THERE will be challenges when schools reopen after the movement control order (MCO).

One of which is ensuring social distancing among students within the school compound and during lessons, said Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin (pic).

With a furry of fake messages making its rounds on social media and group chats, the Education Minister reiterated that schools would be informed two weeks in advance before “go time”.

He said post-MCO, each class will only be allowed to house a maximum of 17 students at any given time.

“Each class had 35 students or more before the MCO, but the current situation does not allow it. Classes must be split into two.

“Each class can house – at most – 16 or 17 students. Large classes (however) can house a little over 20 students, ” he said, adding that another possible alternative was to utilise school halls for classes with a small numbers of students.

Stressing that students’ health and safety will always be the ministry’s top priority, he said pre-packed food would be served in school canteens and students would not be allowed to gather.

The ministry, he said, was considering several options to ensure students’ safety is not compromised when they go back to school.

A standard operating procedure (SOP) for students will be implemented, he added.

“Forms Five and Six students will be the first to start school as they make up a smaller number.

“Hence, it is easier to control and monitor them to ensure the SOP is appropriate and can be carried out well, ” he said during a live TV Teachers Day interview on Monday night.

Teachers, he said, would have to take up the role as SOP enforcer.

“The ministry will constantly provide teachers with guidance and support.

“And students will be given space and opportunity to complete the exam syllabus, ” he said, adding that additional details for other students returning to school would be announced at a later date.

The MCO, he said, has made the ministry realise the importance of prioritising hardware for effective home-based learning.

Fun learning also requires hardware, he said, adding that the ministry is looking into the best way to ensure that students are not left behind in terms of education and technology.

“When Covid-19 swept the nation, we realised that online learning conducted during non-crisis time was carried out in schools using school-provided electronic devices, and Internet – not at home.

“A recent study by the ministry on a sample size of 900,000 students found there was only between 5% and 9% of students who own either a computer, laptop or tablet, while the remaining students used mobile phones which makes it harder for them to carry out ‘intense learning’.

“Therefore, we are now looking into how to improve education for students both in school and at home post-MCO, ” he said, encouraging students to continue home-based learning after the MCO ends.

While nothing can beat the “human touch” students receive from face-to-face lessons from teachers, he said the MCO gave our clildren more time to spend with family, which in turn exposed them to various forms of informal learning.

“Some children who have never tried their hand at cooking have started learning from their parents, while others learnt how to cut hair.“Knowledge cannot be classified as simple or complex. Such tasks may seem simple but these are part and parcel of informal learning which we often take for granted. Everything learnt in your lifetime is knowledge which can benefit your life in one way or another.”

Pleased that parents did not kick up a big fuss when UPSR and PT3 were cancelled in light of Covid-19, he said their acceptance was a good sign as it showed that they understood that education was not just about exams.

“Parents and teachers know that the crucial thing at this moment in time is keeping the children safe, not pressuring them to sit and do well in exams, ” he said, reminding parents to help children expand their knowledge at home.

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