PERLIS Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim has done it again.
This time, he has upset the teachers with his proposal that schools in his state should end at 4pm from March 1.
He is going ahead with his proposal even though the Education Ministry has said that the schools in the state should keep to the same hours for the time being at least.
Recently, the MB created a controversy with his suggestion of a night curfew for youths under 18 to prevent them from being exposed to social ills.
His decision to extend the school hours is also based on the same argument as keeping pupils in the classrooms will mean that they will have less time for unhealthy outside activities.
His suggestion, however, is not without merit and even the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) acknowledges this although it disagrees with the timing of the move.
The NUTP feels that all the other issues related to the extension, such as sufficient physical infrastructure and the financial compensation to be paid to teachers for the longer hours, should be settled first.
But Shahidan is in a hurry as he feels that the social ills plaguing the teenagers should be tackled with the minimum delay.
It appears that he is going ahead with implementing this policy without everything being in place.
There are practical difficulties with the main one being whether the school has two sessions or just one.
For the single-session schools, it will be possible to extend the hours without crowding out those in the afternoon session.
Parents, on their part, should welcome the move as they will know that while they are at work or at home, their children will be spending their time in school instead of being in illegal entertainment outlets.
The allowance of teachers involved should not be too much of a problem as they could be paid for the extra hours.
Shahidan would like the extra hours to be used for religious and moral education, English and other subjects.
Actually the extra hours can be used for the pupils to complete their homework so that it will not be necessary for them to spend time at home doing such assignments.
If they should have any difficulty in doing their homework, the teachers will be on hand to help them.
The extra hours could be justified if they can be used for this purpose alone.
It may not even be necessary for the pupils to go to additional tuition classes although this would affect the livelihood of those depending on such lessons for their normal or extra income.
The after-school tuition classes actually reflects poorly on the performance of teachers as it shows that they have not been providing quality education to their pupils.
As for the extended hours, it may not be suitable for those in the primary level as the pupils may be too young to spend such a long time in their classrooms.
For those parents who can afford it, they will no doubt be happy to pay an extra RM50 or even RM100 a month for this purpose as it will certainly be money well spent.