So what’s next for Malaysia’s students, teachers after total lockdown is lifted? Pakatan MPs ask govt

·4-min read
Pakatan MPs lamented that many are struggling to cope with PdPR owing to limited resources and an inefficient execution of TV Pendidikan\. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
Pakatan MPs lamented that many are struggling to cope with PdPR owing to limited resources and an inefficient execution of TV Pendidikan\. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders today demanded that the Ministry of Education (MoE) reveal its plans for students and teachers after the total lockdown period ends.

Malaysia will be placed under a full lockdown for two weeks from June 1 to 14.

In a statement undersigned by six MPs, the ministry was reminded that the Teaching and Learning at Home (PdPR) system which was enforced for a two-week period has already ended, with a two-week school break to follow suit.

They lamented that many are struggling to cope with PdPR owing to limited resources and an inefficient execution of TV Pendidikan.

“During this latest PdPR session, the old problems remain unresolved. Teachers and students are still plagued with a lack of equipment, poor internet access, an unconducive learning environment, a syllabus designed for teaching and learning in the classroom that is not suitable for adaptation to PdPR, a lack of online teaching and learning materials, an ineffective implementation of TV Pendidikan and so on.

“The same thing is faced by students where the promised 150,000 laptops for those from B40 families have not materialised. What are the plans of the Ministry of Education after the end of the movement restriction? When will the Ministry of Education announce the next plan for the next school session? Will the students return to school or will they follow the PdPR method? Or what is the plan if the travel restriction is extended or terminated? We don’t want last-minute decisions like how it is the norm now,” they asked.

The statement was signed by Maszlee Malik, the chair of PH’s education committee and a former education minister; PKR’s Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad and Natrah Ismail; DAP’s Teo Nie Ching and Steven Sim; and Parti Amanah Negara’s (Amanah) Datuk Dr Hasan Baharom.

The group also asked if the Covid-19 standard operating procedures (SOPs) for schools have been updated, adding that many complaints were previously raised on ineffective SOPs which caused parents and teachers to worry.

The committee members pointed out how teachers are also yet to be vaccinated, despite repeated calls for them to be fast-tracked.

“According to a report by the Ministry of Health (MOH), as of May 18, 2021, a total of 64,046 children have been infected with Covid-19. Of these, 23,739 were students under the age of 12. School children, especially teachers, have not been vaccinated despite being repeatedly urged by this committee.

“On March 29, 2021, in an online conference of education ministers organised by Unesco entitled, ‘One year into Covid: Prioritising education recovery to avoid a general catastrophe’ , the secretary-general of the United Nations (UN) had stressed that all countries need to ‘prioritise and protect education’ through ‘protections in national budgets, increase focus on education in stimulus packages, maintain or increase aid to education use rehabilitation opportunities to bridge the education gap, and expanding digital connectivity and re-imagining education [facing new norms].’

“This needs to be addressed as a guide also by Malaysia, as a Unesco member country,” they said, referring to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation.

The group also called on the MoE to address all the issues they highlighted and hasten the distribution of the 150,000 laptops promised to students from B40 families.

“It is important to remember that the failure of the federal government, especially the minister of education and his two deputies in providing a pro-active response as needed by the people, would have a profound effect on more than five million students of this generation not only for now but in the decades to come,” they added.

On May 28, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) issued a statement to announce a “total lockdown” of the country from June 1 to 14, during which all non-essential services and activities will be prohibited.

At the time of writing, neither the list of essential services nor the SOPs that will apply has been released.

However, the PMO did say the Finance Ministry was drawing up an assistance package for Malaysians and affected sectors, which will be announced soon.

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