It was announced by Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin on June 15 that students will be going back for face-to-face learning starting September 1st. While that is a good thing, with the never-ending increase of COVID-19 cases daily as well as those under 18-year-old not being given their vaccination appointment, most parents are worried about their children’s’ safety when schools reopen.
Image via CNA
Recently, former Education Minister, Dr. Maszlee posted a letter on social media titled: “What is the Rationale of Opening Schools on the September 1?” In his letter, he questioned the rationale of reopening schools in September as well as gave suggestions that the Education Ministry could use to reopen schools more effectively.
Dr. Maszlee stated in his letter that the Education Ministry made a generalized decision and didn’t fully take into account the different needs of rural and urban schools. “I’ve been contacted by educators, management, authorities and parents while also suggesting requirements prior to the reopening of schools nationwide.”
Image via Instagram
He outlined the five main worries against reopening schools:
- The high number of infected cases and death levels worries parents as students are not vaccinated.
- Parents that are in the B40 category and those that have lost their jobs are stressed due to the costs that come with preparing their children for two months of school until the end of the 2021 term.
- There aren’t any proper SOPs based on science and data that have been put in place for the reopening of schools which worries parents that this will cause another mistake like April’s reopening and result in more disruption to children’s education because of the ministry’s “flip flop” decisions.
- Teachers are questioning the hastily decision to reopen schools when they have been conducting online classes for the last 16 months and the 2020 SPM results showcase that education can be taught online.
- Parents are questioning whether the ministry’s decision to reopen schools is a way to stop the distribution programme of 150,000 computers to help poor students.
Following this, Dr. Maszlee made some suggested requirements that should be put in place to ease parents’ worries as schools reopen:
- Specific SOPs to categorize unvaccinated students with supporting data.
- Complete vaccination process for all teachers and staff which should be prioritized.
- Review the vaccination programmes for SPM, STAM, and STPM class students
- Only allow students with vaccinated (at least one dose) family members to attend school in order to avoid new school clusters.
- Discussions should be made between the Education Ministry and NUTP, Kesatuan Guru-Guru Malaysia Barat (KGMMB), Majilis Pengetua Sekolah Malaysia (MPSM), and Gabungan Majilis Guru Besar Malaysia (GMGBM), the parents association, and the Malaysian Pediatric Association (MPA) before making any decisions on this issue.
- Schools should reopen in stages with priority given to rural school students followed by schools in the green zone and lastly opening the schools with vaccine recipients that have achieved herd immunity.
- Schools should have rotating schedules along with stricter SOPs for compact schools. It was also suggested that there be an implementation of alternative education.
- Students in lower primary school (Standards 1-3) can go back to school with stricter SOPs and a small number of students in each class with reduced schooling hours. He also added that there should be an increase in the time they are outside of class in the open environment as recommended by medical practitioners.
- The power of autonomy given to the school to formulate the best decision while also taking into account the situation of each locality and based on guidance from all stakeholder and the National Security Council.
Image via Xin Hua Net
To end his letter, he stated that the government needs to realize that the trust deficit of the people towards the Education Ministry is serious and severe. Furthermore, teachers, parents, and students are facing increased stress because of the lack of proper planning and implementation. He ended by stating that education in to be politicized and the children’s education is the country’s future and it should be done truthfully and professionally.
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