How Can Online Learning Work With IT Shops, Bookstores Closed? — Boo Soon Yew

As long as stationery sections, bookshops, photostat shops, and IT shops stay closed, we are not ready for this road to recovery.

As the dust settles from the announcement of the recovery roadmap put forward by our prime minister on June 15, we must take a long hard look at it.

Putting aside the impending drop in Covid-19 cases as a result of the lockdown we have had in Malaysia since June 1, we must now look to how “normal” life can be under the FMCO.

There are many areas one can talk about; whether with regards to economics, society, or even the community at large. But I will choose to speak about an area close to my heart, namely education.

The education minister had announced on June 6 that online learning, known by its acronym PdPR (Pengajaran dan Pembelajaran di Rumah) will be extended till July 25. A very clear direction, I must say, for both teachers and parents alike to plan for students and children.

Yet, as they say, the recovery roadmap trumps everything. Now we see “social sectors” reopening only in September or October — meaning that schools will only reopen then.

Interestingly, this was exactly the observation made by a UKM Faculty of Education lecturer, who expounded upon how teachers, and even the Ministry of Education, can now plan ahead, in terms of fine-tuning their online teaching material and resources.

Now, that’s all fine, on paper.

Which brings me to my question: how ready are we for this recovery roadmap?

Will students be able to purchase stationery or even revision books to help them in their studies?

Will teachers be able to print out notes and distribute to their students? We have read of dedicated teachers who literally walked the extra kilometre to deliver study material to their charges.

What about devices? Surely no more smartphones with just 1GB of RAM? Will parents be able to purchase affordable devices so that their kids will not be left out during the upcoming three months?

Everyone knows about the struggles faced by families within the PdPR environment. There is no need to elaborate further.

What we want are steps by the government of the day to get everyone ready for the road to recovery, especially for students who are learning within the PdPR environment with the help of their teachers.

Parents and even teachers must be able to purchase required items or photocopy notes and worksheets. The big question is are they able to do it? Sadly, the answer is no.

As long as stationery sections remain closed in department stores, as long as bookshops remain closed, as long as photostat shops and IT shops that sell and deal with smartphones, computers or laptops stay closed, I declare that we are not ready for this road to recovery.

In fact not only are we not ready, the educational development of and opportunities for students will be stunted.

Do we have such a heartless government that is, as they say in Malay, “Indah khabar dari rupa”? I hope not.

So, I can only plead — do the right thing now. Three months of PdPR without being adequately equipped is not a proper scenario for our children.

I hope that positive changes will be made for the sake of the young generation.

  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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