KUALA LUMPUR, May 18 — The Ministry of Education (MOE) reiterated that schools would be informed two weeks in advance before reopening with safe distancing measures.
Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin said that schools will face challenges when they reopen after the Movement Control Order (MCO), particularly efforts to ensure that safe social distancing is practiced within the school compound, as cited by The Star.
Each classroom will only be allowed to house a maximum of 17 students at any given time post-MCO amid the coronavirus epidemic, said Mohd Radzi.
“Each class had 35 students or more before the MCO, but the current situation does not allow it. Classes must be split into two.
“Each class can house—at most—16 or 17 students. Large classes, however, can house a little over 20 students,” Mohd Radzi, as quoted by The Star, without elaborating if more teachers would be hired to handle more classes.
He further added that another conceivable alternative is to utilise school halls for classes with a small number of students, emphasising that the students’ health and safety are of utmost priority to the MOE.
Pre-packed lunches would be served in school canteens and students would also not be allowed to gather, said Dr Mohd Radzi.
The MOE is reportedly contemplating numerous options to ensure that students’ safety would not be compromised when they return to school and that health standard operating procedures (SOP) would be implemented.
“Forms Five and Six students will be the first to start school as they make up a smaller number. Hence, it is easier to control and monitor them to ensure the SOP is appropriate and can be carried out well,” Mohd Radzi told a live TV Teachers Day interview on May 11.
He added that teachers would have to pick up the role as SOP enforcer and that the MOE will continuously provide teachers with guidance and support.
Mohd Radzi also noted that additional details for other students returning to school would be announced at a later date.
“Students will be given space and opportunity to complete the exam syllabus,” he added.
The MOE realised the significance of prioritising hardware for effective home-based learning amid the MCO, said Mohd Radzi, adding that the MOE is also looking into the optimal method to ensure that students would not be left behind in terms of education and technology.
“When Covid-19 swept the nation, we realised that online learning conducted during non-crisis time was carried out in schools using school-provided electronic devices, and internet—not at home.
“A recent study by the ministry on a sample size of 900,000 students found there was only between five and nine per cent of students who own either a computer, laptop or tablet, while the remaining students used mobile phones, which makes it harder for them to carry out ‘intense learning’,” Mohd Radzi was quoted saying.
He further added that the MOE is now looking into ways to improve education for students both in school and also at home post-MCO. Students are encouraged to continue home-based learning even after the MCO ends. The government has extended a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO) until June 9.
Although the “human touch” that students experience from face-to-face lessons with teachers is unreplaceable, the MCO did allow the children to spend more time with family, which exposed them to a variety of informal learning, explained Mohd Radzi.
“Some children who have never tried their hand at cooking have started learning from their parents, while others learnt how to cut hair.
“Knowledge cannot be classified as simple or complex. Such tasks may seem simple, but these are part and parcel of informal learning which we often take for granted. Everything learnt in your lifetime is knowledge which can benefit your life in one way or another,” he said.
Mohd Radzi further added that he is gratified by parents’ positive response towards the cancellation of UPSR and PT3 in light of the Covid-19 outbreak in the country. He explained that their acceptance was a good sign that these parents understood that education goes beyond examinations.
“Parents and teachers know that the crucial thing at this moment in time is keeping the children safe, not pressuring them to sit and do well in exams,” he said, encouraging parents to continue expanding their children’s knowledge at home.