We cannot leave the B40 behind

SCHOOLS cater to the needs of students from different socioeconomic backgrounds.

Keeping them closed for prolonged periods, parents’ groups and teachers argued, could widen the disparity in access to education between the poor and rich.

Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said only a third of students have adequate access to devices and Internet connectivity.

DidikTV, though helpful, cannot replace formal learning.

And to make matters worse, some children have to contend with a hostile home environment, she said, while calling for schools to remain open for as long as possible.“The infectivity rate among children is low according to the World Health Organisation. Schools are safe, it is the community that is not.

“It is time to explore and devise a way where classes are conducted face-to-face and can be watched live simultaneously from homes, like how webinars are conducted.

“The Education Ministry should look into the rotation system where students go to school on alternate days or weeks, or break the lessons into morning and evening sessions, ” she said, while suggesting that school holidays be cut short for learning to continue.

SK Jalan Kuantan 2, Kuala Lumpur senior assistant (student affairs) Aderus Sardini said the closure of schools may not affect pupils who can afford home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) but his pupils who come from B40 families are at a disadvantage as they lack adequate access to digital devices.

“Keeping schools closed could also lead to students mixing with the wrong crowd especially those who live in areas where bad hats are rampant. This will affect their studies, ” he said.

People’s Housing Project (PPR) Gombak Setia residents association chairman Sazali Azman Atar said children from underprivileged families look to the Supplementary Food Programme (RMT) in schools to keep hunger at bay.

Closing schools would burden the families financially as many rely on the RMT to help feed their children, he explained.

“For now, let schools stay open but make sure that it continues to be safely managed. If the cases stemming from schools rise and the situation calls for closure, then go ahead.”

For children who are not academically inclined, their teachers are their only motivation, he noted.

“In school, their teachers are able to monitor them like a hawk unlike with online learning. If you close schools where are the B40 children to go? More than half of them don’t even have laptops for online learning, ” he added.

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