MoE urged to extend academic year

It is important for the govt to consider how classes should resume post-MCO


THE Education Ministry (MoE) is urged to consider extending this year’s academic calendar for both schools and higher learning institutions due to the Movement Control Order (MCO).

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs social policy research manager Wan Ya Shin said public school students are three weeks behind in their lessons and not all have access to digital learning.

“This reflects the issue of a digital divide in our nation — the divide between the urban and rural, as well as socio-economic status.

“The MoE has provided a digital learning platform, but the problem is that not every student has access to the Internet or has a device to access the digital platform,” she told The Malaysian Reserve yesterday.

Wan stressed that a digital learning platform is a good alternative to a physical classroom, however, it is important for the authorities to ensure that everyone has access to the platform.

“The digital divide also exists among students in higher education institutions. Although anecdotal evidence would suggest that most of the students in higher education have access to a mobile phone or laptop, this might not be the case for all.

“Therefore, it would be good for the MoE to consider the possibility of extending the academic calendar year, if not this would leave the underprivileged at a disadvantage,” she added.

Wan also said it is important for the government to consider how classes should resume post-MCO, as social distancing would still be necessary to avoid the risk of students being infected.

She added that if the government decides to extend the academic year, a plan is needed on how to mitigate the risks students might face in the classroom.

“Besides that, hygiene and sanitisation in schools need to be increased to ensure that our children are protected,” she said.

Previously, The Higher Education Ministry said all institutions of higher education must begin the second semester for the current academic year between April 27 and June 1.

The decision was made following the extension of the MCO to April 14.

“With the MCO extension, the first semester of the 2020/2021 academic year is expected to begin in mid-October 2020,” the ministry said in a statement.

Meanwhile, private learning institutions are given the freedom to choose their own commencement dates based on their academic calendars.

MoE has also announced that major examinations such as Form Three Assessment (PT3), Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) have been rescheduled following the extension of the MCO.

The ministry said in a statement that the decision was made after reviewing the current situation and ensuring that all curriculum subjects were completed within the timeframe.

With that, PT3 which is scheduled to begin on Sept 28 to Oct 6, will have its Bahasa Melayu and English papers moved to Sept 28 and Sept 29 this year.

The SPM written exams scheduled from Oct 5 to Oct 14 (Phase One) and Nov 2 to Nov 19 (Phase Two) have been moved to Nov 16 until Dec 7.

For STPM, its second semester exams have been moved from the original date of May 6, 12, 13 and 14 to Nov 18, 19, 23 and 24. The third semester exam will remain on Nov 3,4,5,9and10.

However, the examination dates for Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah, Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia and SPM repeat papers are retained.