‘Online learning is doable’

Keeping kids focused: Two boys attending online classes while their little sister looks on at their home in Bandar Puncak Alam.

PETALING JAYA: Students nationwide will return to home-based learning (PdPR) after Hari Raya until the end of the MCO. However, educationists caution that B40 and rural students are not ready to resume PdPR but steps can be taken to ensure none of them get left behind.

Although there have been efforts by the Education Ministry to strengthen PdPR, including producing the “Teaching and Learning at Home Manual Version 2” (PdPR 2.0) and “Teaching and Learning at Home Timetable Implementation Guide” in February, B40 students, especially from rural schools, still face problems.

PdPR is mostly dependent on Internet access, which is severely lacking in rural areas, even though there are both online and offline methods.

Based on data from the Education Ministry, out of 10,000 schools in Malaysia, 671 schools are located in rural areas, the majority being in Sabah (285) and Sarawak (330).

Universiti Utara Malaysia School of Education senior lecturer Dr Muhammad Noor Abdul Aziz said PdPR would be tough but doable for students who lacked access to the Internet, with the help of parent-teacher associations (PTAs).

He said PTAs should be roped in to help deliver learning modules, written by experts and based on textbook content, to these students.

“Master trainers in each district or state can provide cascading or training to the teachers who are struggling to prepare the modules, ” said Muhammad Noor.

These modules, he added, should focus on simple project-based learning that utilised items readily available at home.

Parents could also pick up copies of these modules from the school guardhouse, he added.

Muhammad Noor said a learning checklist could be given together with the modules so that parents could assess their children themselves to ensure they were on track with their learning.

Neighbours and older family members could also help coach these learners, he suggested.

He also said students who owned devices – bought for use during the prior round of PdPR – could use them for blended learning.

Educationist Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam said urban schools would be fine conducting PdPR but the rural schools would have problems.

He said teachers should be better prepared this time around but there would still be challenges to reach rural students who lived in villages that were hard to access.

As today also marks Teacher’s Day, Siva Subramaniam said these teachers should be commended for the hard work they have put in throughout the past 14 months in ensuring their students did not fall behind in their studies.

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