THE year got off to a rocky start with students uncertain over when face-to-face lessons can resume in light of rising Covid-19 cases.
The Education Ministry had initially announced on Jan 11 that Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) students in the 2020 and 2021 cohorts – together with Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (SVM), Sijil Kemahiran Malaysia (SKM), Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM), Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM) and Diploma Vokasional Malaysia (DVM) – would return to schools, depending on whether they are under the movement control order, conditional MCO or recovery MCO states.
The decision was reversed in less than a week, on Jan 16, with the ministry announcing that only the 2020 batch of exam year students would be allowed to return for face-to-face studies.
While some understood the need for the decision, others were upset that it was “yet another flip flop”.
The academic calendar for the year, however, will go on as scheduled with all students – except the 2020 exam cohort – going back to home-based learning.
To ensure that the learning process is uninterrupted as students battle online fatigue and as the exam candidates embark on their last minute preparations, all parties must do their part.
It cannot be solely the ministry’s responsibility.
Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said parent-teachers associations (PTAs) and non-government organisations (NGOs) should play a more proactive role and work together with the ministry to find solutions, instead of waiting on announcements.
“PTAs comprise people who are knowledgeable and have good suggestions; the government should look more seriously into taking their recommendations into account to ensure our students are headed towards the right direction.
“Let’s not forget, NGOs play an important role in helping to map out solutions, especially in times like this. Do not dismiss them, ” Siva Subramaniam, the former National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general, told StarEdu.
Siva was also the former Human Rights Commission of Malaysia secretary-general and former Public and Civil Services president.
Teach For Malaysia chief executive officer Chan Soon Seng said the world is experiencing the largest disruption to education in modern history.
The effects of this disruption, he said, will affect everyone.
“Now more than ever, the quote “it takes a village to raise a child”, rings true.
“We can’t wait for any single party to come up with all the solutions. In order to address the immediate challenges, we each need to play a role in helping students navigate during these uncertain times.”
Look into providing either financial assistance or any type of expertise to help students push through these tough times, Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin said.
Learning is a holistic process, he said, adding that various organisations could conduct virtual activities such as public speaking, art competitions and sports activities for the students.
“These healthy activities will help build, develop and hone students’ skills while filling up their time.
“Small incentives can also be thrown in to attract participation. The government could attract and encourage telcos to provide free data to students and teachers and in return, allow them to expand their business.”
Not forgetting educators, Mak said virtual workshops should be held where retired teachers and lecturers can share their expertise to improve teachers’ online teaching skills.
“So much can be done provided there is good Internet connectivity.”
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