Children not prepared for home-based learning, say parents

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PETALING JAYA: A parents’ group has criticised the move to close all schools until the end of the school year in December, following the conditional movement control order (CMCO) enforced on most peninsular states except for Kelantan, Pahang and Perlis due to a spike in Covid-19 cases nationwide.

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Parents Action Group for Education Malaysia (PAGE) said students and teachers were not prepared for home-based learning which, they claimed, had yet to be improved since the movement control order (MCO) was imposed in March.

“It is still the same, it largely depends on the individual teacher’s effort. Although the education ministry has set up an online digital learning platform (Delima), we as parents are unable to access it,” its honorary secretary, Tunku Munawirah Putra, told FMT.

Citing a report by research organisation Khazanah Research Institute, she said internet connectivity especially for B40 households was insufficient for equal and integrated home-based learning across all states now under CMCO.

“Even for the B40 in urban areas who may have internet connection and devices, half of them do not have a conducive place to study.

“It is up to the capacity and capability of the school and teachers, and schools will not be reprimanded for failing to provide such teaching and learning (TnL).

“Parents and students want schools to reopen and children back in school with much more stringent SOPs, including providing face masks to those who cannot afford them.”

Tunku Munawirah said blanket school closures in all states was “a waste of good opportunity”, as teachers still needed to report for work.

She said some students could still benefit from face-to-face classroom learning even if classroom sessions were made smaller or shorter.

“Some students may not be able to follow online learning, which makes them completely disinterested in schooling and learning,” she said, suggesting that class schedules can be cut short and classes staggered, with school sessions on alternate days.

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Tunku Munawirah said parents were also concerned over the 400,000 SPM students with the postponement of the SPM. “Some have not completed their syllabus and they fear that the exam will be based on the full syllabus,” she said.

Meanwhile, a Mathematics teacher in a rural area in Kelantan, Mohd Khairul Izuddin Shaari, said most teachers were not prepared for online TnL as they had assumed there will be no more home-based learning after schools reopened in June.

He said the abrupt announcement of the school holidays, made on a weekend, was “too last-minute for schools to make the necessary preparations” for online teaching.

Khairul Izuddin also agreed that internet access and lack of devices remained a problem for quality online learning, especially for students in his school, and that many schools were not equipped for online learning.

“There are still many gaps that need improvement before online learning can be implemented fully. But schools will still try their best to teach even through home-based learning,” he said.

He also said teachers were concerned about preparing students for the upcoming school year, for example, for Year 6 students who would go to secondary school, and kindergarten children going to Year 1.

“There are some who complain that all the attention was being given to students who would be facing their SPM examinations.

“Schools will reopen on Jan 20, 2021 and SPM will start on Feb 22. They also fear that these students (those going to Secondary 1 and Year 1) may not be prepared.”

The education ministry yesterday announced that all schools, including vocational colleges, under the education ministry will be closed from Nov 9 until the final day of the school year on Dec 17 and 18.

Education Minister Radzi Jidin said all primary school students are required to resume face-to-face classes on Jan 20 next year, as previously scheduled. The same goes for Form One, Four, Five and Six as well as vocational college students.

All Form Two and Three students will also begin the new school term on the same date, but through online learning. They will only be allowed to resume classes in person on March 8. – FMT

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