Let school heads decide on outdoor activities

PETALING JAYA: Most parents agree with the Education Ministry’s move to temporarily ban outdoor activities at all schools to prevent heatstroke, with some saying that it would be even better to allow schools the autonomy to make such decisions during a hot spell.

Some of these parents called on the government to empower headmasters and principals to decide for their own schools as they said different areas may experience different weather patterns and temperatures.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the ministry’s decision to protect schoolgoing children nationwide is timely and reminded parents to advise their children not to play outside, besides keeping themselves hydrated at school.

“Considering that we are a tropical country, the practice of using hats, caps and umbrellas should be encouraged,” she said.

Owing to recent frequent thunderstorms in some states and areas, Noor Azimah said schools should also be alert to such dangers and advise their students accordingly.

“Schools should be aware that it is not just the heat alert but also the lightning alert which often gets ignored,” she said.

Noor Azimah said school heads should be allowed to make their own decisions regarding their schools and students.

Event consultant Bob Faizeli Mohamed Din, 42, whose three children are in Form One as well as Years Five and Two in primary school, commended the ministry’s decision to allow students to wear sports attire instead of uniforms to school.

“Otherwise, they are often burdened with unnecessary clothing like the prefect’s vest and necktie,” he said.

Bob Faizeli also suggested that schools and authorities not impose the necktie rule on primary pupils.

“It’s fine with secondary school students but less so for the younger kids to have to wear a tie to school every day,” he added.

Accountant Cecelia Khor, 40, from Melaka, said her teenage son and two daughters in primary school have stopped joining in any outdoor activities at their schools.

“I also let them bring more drinking water and juices or some fruits to school so that they can hydrate themselves,” she said.

Khor agreed that schools should do away with the daily necktie requirement in tropical Malaysia.

“Wearing a necktie during assembly and other important celebrations is okay, but it shouldn’t be a daily thing.

“As long as the kids are properly and comfortably dressed, they should be fine to continue learning at school,” she said.

Housewife Lyana Sulaiman, 44, from Shah Alam, said the unpredictable weather with a mix of hot days and thunderstorms has got her more worried.

“My teenage sons enjoy playing football and they are in their school team. Now they are upset that their practice sessions are cancelled until further notice.

“But I’m more concerned if they continue in such bad weather conditions so I have warned them not to sneak out,” said the mother of three.

On Thursday, Education Minister Fadhlina Sidek said the ministry had issued a circular on the ban a day before and it must be adhered to by all school headmasters and principals nationwide.

The circular involves both morning and afternoon school sessions and the ban covers all outdoor activities including sports, camping and cross-state events.

“Learning is only carried out entirely in the classroom,” said Fadhlina, adding that the latest ban covers the new guidelines set by the ministry that include allowing the wearing of sportswear at schools due to the current hot weather.

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