Education minister explains school closures


Socially distanced: Lawmakers debating on issues relating to the Covid-19 pandemic during the parliamentary session at the Parliament Building. — Bernama

Reports by MARTIN CARVALHO, HEMANANTHANI SIVANANDAM, RAHIMY RAHIM and TARRENCE TAN

THE move to close all schools nationwide until Dec 17 is meant to ensure the new school session next year can be conducted safely as scheduled, says Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Md Jidin.

He noted that the decision was made after considering data analysis of Covid-19 cases involving students, teachers and their close contacts, along with other school members.

These cases, he said, were increasing during the third wave of the pandemic.

“Aside from that, data from the Education Ministry shows that student attendance was affected whenever there were positive cases even though the area may not have a high number of positive cases.

“The low attendance is also due to the uneasiness felt by parents regarding the safety of their children if they continue to go to school, ” he said during Minister’s Question Time.

Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen (PH-Bandar Kuching) asked the Education Ministry to explain the rationale behind closing schools nationwide – including those in green zones.

Mohd Radzi said the decision to postpone the dates of public examinations was made after taking into consideration that teaching and learning (PdP) activities were affected since the movement control order was enforced between March and June this year.

“Although schools were open in stages since June 24, schools in several states were forced to close again due to enforcement of the conditional MCO.

“There are some states that closed schools for more than four weeks.

“The significant increase in Covid-19 cases in the third wave and the implementation of the latest conditional MCO have impacted students’ preparation to sit for exams, ” he said.

The Education Minister said with the postponement, exam candidates would have a longer time to prepare for their examinations.

“Aside from that, it will give some time for them to go to classes once schools reopen.

“It will also allow the Education Ministry to make the necessary arrangements in various logistic aspects involving the implementation of exams, especially for states badly affected by the Covid-19 pandemic, ” said Mohd Radzi.

He also noted that the ministry would continue to ensure that all students, regardless of their socioeconomic background, have equal access to education.

“Students that do not have access to the internet or suitable software can continue learning via TV Pendidikan, TV Okey and Tutor TV Astro, ” he said.

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