Ministry Of Education Has Failed Our Students And Teachers

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Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:

The Ministry of Education of Malaysia has clearly failed our children, students and even teachers in both protecting them during this spike of Covid-19 and also properly planning proper procedures and guidelines for the opening and running of schools during this current pandemic to make sure students do not fall behind in their students.

Currently with the spike of cases in Sarawak and even around the country, parents and even teachers are worried about their safety and the safety of the children that has gone to school.

It is reported that up to 186 schools nationwide and an estimate of up to 112 schools in Sarawak itself had seen infections since reopening under the instructions of the Ministry of Education.

I fully understand that the decision to open schools is a tough one as there are many factors to consider especially balancing the need to protect the health of our children, and also to make sure they do not be left out from their studies especially among the poorer students and those living in rural areas.

However, what is concerning is that even after more 1 year of being in the pandemic, the Ministry of Education doesn’t seem to have a comprehensive plan on how to address this issue nor help equip the teachers to adapt to such a situation.

What it seems is that the Ministry has been reactive in their policies which is shown by the constant “flip-flopping” and sudden last minute decisions leaving parents more concerned and many confused.

As a result, not only are our students, teachers and staff are getting infected by the virus, but there is a whole generation of students that are so left behind in terms of their studies and are finding it hard to catch up and cope, especially the poor that have difficulties in following the home-based learning programme.

That is why I urge the Ministry the Education in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to come up with a comprehensive “education blueprint for this pandemic” in addressing this issue.

This includes clear and specific parameters and considerations that are being used to decide the opening and closing of schools in case of an outbreak or a surge of cases in the area.

I thus proposed 3 main things the Ministry must undertake immediately to properly address the current situation especially here in Sarawak;

(1) Close ALL schools in RED and Orange Zones for at least 2 weeks to help break the spread of infection in the school. By going on with the current system and classes, it is not effective as the students and teachers are distracted by the rising cases as well as the disruption in their learning momentum in school.

(2) During this period of “school closure”, the Ministry MUST start coming up with a ‘hybrid system” or “rotating system” for schools in high-risk areas where classes are rotated on different days thus reducing the number of students in school.

Some who can follow home-based learning will be allowed to do it at home and those that cannot be allowed to come to school.

The Ministry must then train and equip all teacher to help adapt to such a system during this period and not let them to “figure things out” on their own.

This will prepare the teachers as school reopens again and this system can be in place for schools in high-risk areas and can be reverted back to normal system once it recovers.

(3) The Ministry must be transparent on crucial information on Covid-19 outbreaks in schools so that parents will make an informed choice for what is best for their children in such situation.

With clear and specific parameter, parents can then evaluate whether to send their children to school, or even for the District Education Department to make decisions when to open or close schools.

Such decision must be based on facts and data and not any political consideration. Vaccination for teachers must be prioritised in Phase 2 which starts tomorrow.

That is why I urge the Ministry of Education to be pro-active and come up with a comprehensive plan before more and more of our students and teacher suffer even more. We cannot waste this time again like we wasted the full year without coming out with a comprehensive system.

Schools cannot just simply open and close based on daily numbers, and this cannot go on forever especially as many expert are expecting Cpvid-19 to be endemic.That is why a clear system must be in place for any eventualities.

Policies that are unclear, not specific and reactive by the Ministry has clearly has failed both our students and teachers and the Ministry must take responsibility for that.

Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching