PN govt has failed to put teachers and students first

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Former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching today took to task the current Perikatan Nasional (PN) government school reopening management, saying that the latter has failed to put the interests of students and teachers first.

In a statement, the Kulai MP pointed out three “failures” done thus far in PN’s management of the reopening of schools during the Covid-19 pandemic, and that the leadership should be held accountable.

“The government has failed miserably in its primary obligations in putting the interest of students first and teachers’ interests following students’ thus placing the burden on teachers and parents to sort this mess on their own.

“The lack of leadership is telling and should be called out,” she said.

Teo questioned the government’s lack of transparency on Covid-19 related cases within schools, urging the government to provide more transparent answers to allow parents to make informed decisions on their children’s welfare.

“According to the data released by stakeholders, at least 186 schools recorded Covid-19 positives cases since then. Question is, why the Ministry of Education is not providing daily Covid-19 updates involving schools. We do not know how many teachers and students are detected by Covid-19 positive.

“The parents and teachers have the right to this information so parents can make informed decisions. At the same time, it will help to restore the confidence of parents,” she said.

She then questioned Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Aziz’s promise on the rollout of the 150,000 laptops by government-linked companies and investment firms, adding that it has been more than two months since the supposed rollout.

On January 27, Zafrul said that the roll-out of 150,000 laptops GLCs and related investment firms had been expedited to February.

“We are entering the end of April with not the slightest hint of 150,000 laptops promised by the Minister of Finance. What is even more tragic is the silence that ensues.

“I have raised this question in numerous statements and the audacity of the Finance Minister and the collective irresponsibility of the Cabinet to ignore such an important question is disastrous. It simply implies that they do not care about our children’s education.

“It is no wonder the #KerajaanGagal hashtag is trending,” she said.

She also questioned the Finance Ministry’s promise for additional teachers as schools face shortages of manpower as more teachers — as frontline workers — are forced to be quarantined at home.

She said that the PN government introduced the Short-term Employment Programme (MySTEP) in Budget 2021 with an allocation of more than RM700 million, which was supposed to offer 35,000 job opportunities in the public sector.

“As we blink and realise the passing of the first quarter of 2021, we have not been informed of the additional temporary teachers our education system needs. Where are the additional temporary teachers promised by the Finance Ministry?

“Teachers form part of the nation’s forefront in assisting the nation to recuperate from the effects of this pandemic. And yet, we see a lackadaisical attitude and response,” she said.

Yesterday, Health Director General Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdulah said that an educational institution, an entertainment outlet, and a social event held earlier this month were among the causes of seven new Covid-19 clusters reported. – MMO