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Reconsider move to stop school for SPM students, parents urge


SMK Seri Bintang Utara SPM candidates during the last day of schooling before sitting the exam on Feb 22. —AZMAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Parents are urging the Education Ministry to reconsider its decision to stop face-to-face classes from today (Wednesday, Feb 10).

Caught by the ministry’s unexpected decision, parents are anxious that the move would hamper the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2020 candidates' final preparations as studying from home is less effective.

With less than two weeks to crunch time, parents feel that it is crucial for students to be in school.

A parent who only wants to be known as Kogi said she’s not happy with the decision because her son could use the final week to get revision tips and encouragement from his teachers and friends.

“It helps in motivating the students and keeps their spirits up, ” she said.

Nur Sarah Lee, whose son prefers face-to-face lessons, appealed to the ministry to allow students back on Feb 15.

"He understands subjects like Additional Mathematics and Accounting better when he is with his teachers.”

While Deepa Pasupathy has ramped up her son’s tuition classes and signed him up for seminars, she’s worried for students who can’t afford tuition and devices for online learning.

Its chairman Mak Chee Kin said many parents have contacted the Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) to voice their concerns.

“We don't understand the rationale behind this decision because if safety is a concern, then the ministry should not have allowed the students to return to schools in the first place.

“The circular is also unfair as students in boarding schools are allowed to stay in.

“According to feedback from our members, students’ attendance is about 70% since they were allowed back in school.

"This means that the same percentage of parents want face-to-face lessons in the run up to the exams."

Education director-general Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim explained in the ministry's circular dated Feb 4 that the move was to give candidates a break for Chinese New Year and to give them time to study before their exams kick off on Feb 22.

Schools, however, can still conduct additional classes from now until the exams end if there is a need but additional classes would require permission from parents, guardians and teachers, she said.

The circular also applies to SVM (Sijil Vokasional Malaysia) 2020 candidates.

A Form Five teacher in the Klang Valley who only wants to be known as Sri said he and his colleagues are frustrated by the ministry's "sudden announcement".

“As teachers, we want our students to be in the right frame of mind and be prepared for the biggest exam of their schooling years.

“We have already prepared a revision timetable for them as most students need last minute help.

“Online teaching and learning poses its own challenges but we are coming up with a schedule for the last leg of revision to coach our students, ” he said.

He has also requested his school administration carry out extra classes online.

National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan, however, said the circular is not an issue as students need personal study time.

“What they need now are tips on questions that may come out and how to tackle these.

“Teachers are just a call away and always willing to help," he said.

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