PETALING JAYA: He is supposed to be studying but Ahmad (not his real name) has been helping his parents at their sundry shop instead.
“My father had to let his workers go when he could not pay them anymore. So here I am, helping to run the shop, ” he said.
The Form Four student from Rawang has been doing this after the movement control order (MCO) was first introduced.
He would be in the shop five mornings a week. This meant he cannot attend his online classes.
Although his teacher would send homework via WhatsApp, Ahmad said he did not do it because he did not understand the lesson.
“It’s easier to just leave it, ” he said.
Ahmad said he wanted to help his parents even though he is missing out on his schooling as his family needed to survive these tough times.
Hafizah, a teacher from Semporna, Sabah, said a student of hers also faced the same predicament.“One student has been absent for the past six months. Sometimes, he would come once a week, ” said the Malaysian University English Test teacher.
“This Form Six student wanted to help his family and would follow his father out to sea every day, ” she said, adding that the boy’s father was a fisherman who also sold produce he grew himself.
She said most of her students come from low-income families whose parents are farmers, fishermen or estate labourers.
Hafizah said she and her colleagues had tried to speak to the student but with not much success.
National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said one of the reasons students were absent was to help their parents due to their financial situation.
Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education Mak Chee Kin said parents should allow their children to attend school, especially if they are sitting for SPM.
“I hope parents are aware about the importance of an education.
“Even if they are affected economically, they must find ways to send their children to school, ” he said.Meanwhile, the Melaka Education Department voiced its concern over the absence of some 1,000 students who are sitting for the SPM examination despite various efforts made to get them back to school.
State Education director Dr Mohd Azam Ahmad said absenteeism was obvious in August and September, especially among male students.
“We are doing our best, including visiting the students at home to encourage them to come back to school in view of the examination scheduled to be held in January 2021, ” he said in an interview.
Dr Mohd Azam said over 11,000 students are sitting for SPM and the record showed that about 10% of them had not been attending classes.“I want to assure parents that schools are safe and every precaution has been initiated to prevent any spread of Covid-19, ” he said.
Dr Mohd Azam said the Alor Gajah district recorded the most number of absentees in the recent month.
He said most of these students claimed they had lost interest in studying and had started working.
“Some of them are from families facing financial constraints but we have various mechanisms in place to provide assistance to them including canteen money, ” he said.
Dr Mohd Azam said his department also hoped that community and association leaders in the state would help to encourage these students to return to their studies.
On Saturday, Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said attendance rate in schools stood at 85% on average since July.