Education ministry slammed for “last-minute” decision on school closure

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Last-minute decision makes it difficult for many parties, especially parents, teachers and students to prepare.

Former youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman has criticised the education ministry for making a last-minute decision to close schools, saying it has caused a lot of trouble for parents.

All pupils in primary and secondary schools are to stay at home and follow online classes from Jan 20, the education ministry announced yesterday in a reversal of an announcement made last week.

It said only those taking public examinations will go back to school when the school year reopens on Jan 20.

However, all kindergartens registered with the ministry are allowed to continue holding classes.

The Muar MP said he was earlier baffled by the ministry’s decision to reopen schools on Jan 20 even though it was widely expected that Covid-19 cases would be at dangerous levels.

“I’m not sure why the education ministry made another last-minute decision like this,” he said in a Facebook post today.

Syed Saddiq added that the announcement was not made at a suitable time. “You announced it on a Saturday evening. This is not a good policy implementation.”

Further, he said the ministry ought to understand the impact of the decision on parents.

“Parents have already bought school supplies, school uniforms, school equipment and paid school fees, among other things,” he said, adding that some parents had even sent their children to hostels, not knowing the schools would be closed.

He urged the ministry not to use the Covid-19 crisis as an excuse to do last-minute work that caused inconvenience to many.

“It has been almost a year since the pandemic spread in Malaysia,” he added.

Meanwhile, Amanah Youth’s education bureau chairperson Hasbie Muda blasted Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin for making a “last-minute” decision on allowing only higher secondary school students sitting for exams to return to school on Jan 20.

“Amanah Youth regrets that this important announcement was made at such short notice as with other surprise announcements by the education minister previously.

“This last-minute habit makes it difficult for many parties, especially parents, teachers and students to prepare,” Hasbie said in a statement today.

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“The increasing trend of Covid-19 cases being over four figures did not start yesterday. The Ministry should be able to make projections in advance,” he added.

Hasbie said that the ministry also needs to be aware of the problem of Internet access which is still at a low level in rural areas as is access to home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) online education facilities.

“Not all families are able to provide PdPR facilities.

“Given that most of the students are now at home and the situation does not show any sign of ending in the near future, the ministry should immediately increase the number of education programmes on free channels as such plans are too few.

“Provision for the Learning Resources and Technology Division (BSTP) should be increased to develop quality and attractive digital learning materials in line with the implementation of PdPR throughout the country,” he added.

In making the announcement, the ministry had said that all primary and secondary school students from Form One to Form Five can follow the PdPR according to the suitability of the students and teachers beginning Jan 20.

The ministry added that Form Four and Form Five students who have registered for full-time boarding schools can remain in their hostels and follow lessons online or return home and continue with the PdPR.