Call to probe dropout issue

PETALING JAYA: The Education Ministry needs to find out the reasons why students dropped out of school because each case is a major concern to all, say educationists.

As the country’s schools switched to online learning last year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, they cited several reasons for the cause, among them, a lack of interest due to the limitations to their learning process brought about by the pandemic.

Parent Action Group for Education (Page) president Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said more should be done to investigate the issue, which was not new and may have worsened during the pandemic.

“Many students were unable to learn due to limitations. Therefore, it was easier to drop out of school rather than to endure the difficulties of catching up,” she said when contacted yesterday.

While there may be family issues dominating the decision to drop out, she said dropping out of school may become a societal problem.She said the community should come together to assist these families, either in the form of healthcare or earning capacity, which is usually the reason behind children dropping out of school.

Noor Azimah was commenting on a ministry’s written reply in the Dewan Rakyat that a total of 21,316 students dropped out of school during the Covid-19 pandemic from March 2020 to July this year.

The ministry added that those who left the education system before they completed their schooling comprised 0.22% of the total number of students.

It defined dropouts from the education system as situations whereby a student exited the system before completing schooling or the period of education.

Noor Azimah, however, expressed concern that the figures stated in the Dewan Rakyat may be “grossly under-declared” because on average and during the pre-Covid-19 period, the number of dropouts was approximately 60,000 a year or 1.2% of the total number of students in the country.

“The Education Ministry should find out more on this. They have the resources to identify these dropouts. Then, work with the relevant ministries to help overcome problems facing these families,” she added.

Educationist Mak Chee Kin said the authorities need to find out the actual reasons because “every dropout is a cause of concern”.

Mak, who is Melaka Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman, attributed several reasons.

Among the problems faced by the students included poor or no Internet connection and no learning gadgets to facilitate online learning.

Others, he said, were mainly due to economic reasons, loss of interest to continue studying and those who switched to private education.“No matter what the reasons were, it is a sign that we are not doing enough to tackle the weaknesses in our virtual or online learning system.

“Hopefully, all these students had been counselled before their decision was accepted by the schools.

“Otherwise, immediate action needs to be taken through their respective district education office. Each school authority should counsel and find ways to help them,” he said.

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