For teachers, they are wondering if this year’s academic calendar is still applicable since schools were forced to close in March while the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) Semester 3 examinations were pushed to the first quarter of 2021.
The STPM Semester 2 examinations, too, has been delayed to this August.
Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced that over 500,000 pupils would attend classes on June 24, three months after the government imposed the movement control order due to Covid-19.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) secretary-general Harry Tan said its 220,000 members were left in the dark whether the academic calendar would be revised.
He said teachers did not even know whether the year-end school holidays had been changed.
“When teachers teach, they need to plan and finish their syllabus in preparation for the coming exam.
“They also need time to do revision with their students and, more importantly, students need to plan their strategy to do well in their exam. All these need a proper timetable or schedule so that teachers can execute their game plan well,” he added.
Yee Ziann, a Form Six student from Kolej Tun Fatimah, Melaka, is worried that the delay in the examinations will affect the difficulty of the questions set.
A later exam date might also cause students to forget their lessons, he added.
“Delaying the exam was never a good thing from the start as it pushes our curriculum schedule back and I’m worried about how it will affect the exam questions.
“It is a fact that the questions were prepared a few months ago but we don’t know if the Malaysian Examinations Council has tweaked questions for the Semester 2 examinations.
“I’m staying positive although I could be losing out on months before I can start my tertiary education,” he said.
Form Six student Mak Jun Le is also worried that the examination will be tougher.
The perception is that students had extra time to revise during the MCO but he was not able to “fully absorb” the lessons through e-learning.
“It took more time for me to understand the information through online learning.
“How can I do well in my exams if I can’t absorb everything that I’m supposed to know?”
A Form Five student who only wants to be known as Aina said she was worried about the delay in entering university.
“Because of the delay in the STPM exam, my entry into university will also be delayed.”
Next year’s intake to public institutions of higher education’s foundation, matriculation and diploma courses will be delayed to July or August next year, while degree courses will begin in October or September.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education chairman Mak Chee Kin hopes the Education Ministry would consider allowing Lower Form Six students to return to school in July.
The Lower Form Six students, he said, would normally start their semester in May.
“I am concerned about this as students would be left idle and they may lose interest and direction as they wait for an announcement.”
Parent Action Group For Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the ministry must not forget about the other students who were still at home.
Announcing whether there would be changes in the academic calendar would provide some certainty to parents and families, especially those with younger children, she added.
“Due to the disparity in access to technology, some students have not benefited since the closure of schools.
“While the government is funding selected sectors of the economy, education should be at the forefront of spending.
“This is the perfect storm to jumpstart digital and 21st century learning, and they could look into funding one laptop for each household for education purposes,” she added.
On Wednesday, Dr Mohd Radzi said a total of 500,440 Form 5, Form 6, Sijil Vokasional Malaysia and Sijil Tinggi Agama students from 2,440 schools and hundreds of international schools would resume classes.
The schedule (of staggered classes) will be announced at a later date.
“We (ministry) decided to have staggered classes because we are worried that there may be a surge in the number of people (at school) if parents decide to send their children personally.
“All decisions made by the ministry are based on recommendations and advice from the National Security Council and the Health Ministry, ” he said in a live telecast.