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“What’s the rationale for schools to reopen?” Former Education Minister gives his opinion

Schools had been scheduled to reopen on 1 September following the latest announcement from the Education Ministry (KPM) on last Saturday (17 July).

However, the number of Covid-19 cases reported daily had climbing higher each day and many parents are worried of their children’s safety if they were being sent back to school in September. Moreover, all these children were not being vaccinated given that they are under 18 year-old.

Hence, Former Education Minister, Dr Maszlee took the matter to his social media to question the rationale behind the reopening schools in stages from 1 September onwards.

At the same time, he gave KPM some suggestions on how to conduct the reopening of schools more effectively.

Source: The Straits Times

On his social media post, he highlighted the generalised decision made by the current Education Ministry to reopen schools without presenting scientific data and taking into consideration the differing needs of urban and rural schools.

“I’ve been contacted by educators, management, authorities and parents while also suggesting requirements prior to the reopening of schools nationwide.”

Here are the worrying concerns if schools were to reopen:

  • The high number of daily cases and death level, in addition to students not being vaccinated.
  • Parents, especially those in the B40 category and those who have lost their jobs are troubled as it is costly to prepare their children to go back to school for the remaining two months till the end of the 2021 schooling term.
  • There are no proper SOPs based on science and data for the reopening of schools, which led to parents fearing that the mistake like April’s reopening will repeat itself. The flip-flopping policies by the Ministry will disrupt the children’s education.
  • Teachers are questioning why the rush to reopen schools when they have done multiple improvisations to their online classes in the last 16 months and the SPM 2020 results clearly show that education can be conducted online.
  • Parents are questioning the rationale behind the ministry’s decision and is this their way to stop the distribution programme of 150,000 computers to help poor students.
Source: Malay Mail

Suggestions by Dr Maszlee

  1. The Ministry must come up with a special SOP for unvaccinated students, based on science and data.
  2. Complete vaccination process for all teachers and school staff without exception. The safety and well-being of teachers and school employees must be prioritised in all decisions taken.
  3. Review vaccination programmes for SPM, STAM, and STPM class students.
  4. Allow only students with vaccinated (at least the first dosage) family members to attend school to avoid new school clusters.
  5. The Education Ministry must discuss with NUTP, Kesatuan Guru-Guru Malaysia Barat (KGMMB), Majlis Pengetua Sekolah Malaysia (MPSM), and Gabungan Majlis Guru Besar Malaysia (GMGBM), the parents association, and the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA) before making any decision on this issue.
  6. Implement the reopening of schools in stages with priority given to a) rural schools students first b) followed by schools in the green zone, c) then opening the schools with vaccine recipients that have achieved herd immunity.
  7. Introduce rotating school schedules in addition to strict SOPs for schools with more students. In addition, schooling on alternative days can be of consideration too.
  8. Students in the lower primary (Standard 1 to Standard 3) can go back to school with stricter SOPs monitored with a small number of students in each class and reduced schooling hours. To introduce more out-of-class activities that are conducted in open environment as recommended by medical practitioners.
  9. To give the autonomy to the school to formulate the best decision while taking into consideration the situation of each locality and based on guidance from all stakeholders and also the National Security Council.

Towards the end, he mentioned that the government needs to realised that the people are losing trust and confidence towards KPM. He added that the stress faced by teachers, parents, and students due to the absence of strategic planning and implementation by the Education Ministry causing this worrisome problem.

Hence, he advised KPM to act smarter, more strategically, and be transparent too. He once again emphasized that the government should not politicised the education system as the children’s education is the country’s future. Having said that, it should be done truthfully and professionally.

What do you think about this? Share your thoughts!

Read the statement from Maszlee here:

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