What about the kids?

Let’s now hope that the alternative method of evaluation will be a fair one for Malaysian students of all backgrounds

Pic TMR

WHILE discussions related to Covid-19 and the Movement Control Order (MCO) have revolved mainly around new positive cases and the country’s economy, parents’ immediate concern is their children’s schooling.

Students have been at home since the school holiday, which began on March 14 before the country imposed the movement restriction. While schools are closed indefinitely until normalcy returns, parents remain wary about their children’s health after the MCO.

Their worries are not unfounded. There are about 423,000 teachers and 4.75 million students at almost 2,500 schools of various types in the country. There are suggestions that schools should be the last to reopen when the MCO is over.

Schools have been told to conduct home-based learning with online classes via Zoom, Google Classroom or Microsoft Team, among others, while there are also educational television (TV) shows like Tutor TV and the newly launched TV Okey.

However, the biggest issue still lies with inadequate Internet access for many students.

A father of six from Bestari Jaya, Suhaimy Mohamed Sunar, said his children would normally go to their grandmother’s house which has better Internet connection. However, they cannot do that now with the MCO in place.

For his younger children, most school works require printouts, which would be impossible for families that do not have printers at home as printing shops are closed.

There are also parents condemning, even threatening to sue teachers for giving their children too much homework.

“This isn’t true of all teachers,” Suhaimy said, adding that his children are given between 8am and 10am daily to submit their work. The teachers would then return their marks or grades on the same day through parents-teacher WhatsApp groups.

“It is really down to how parents help their kids manage time. Sometime, out of 40 students, only 10 or 12 were graded, meaning that the others had not submitted their work,” he added.

As most parents are working from home, anyway, Suhaimy said the best way is to have both parents and children working at the same time.

Another parent, Adam Rashid from Johor, said while many teachers are diligent in keeping up with their students’ progress at home, a few others would dump a weeks’ worth of homework and were not heard from again.

For the children’s future, both sides need to be more forgiving and understanding as the entire world is “on a global lockdown”. Some people are even calling it World War 3.

Our school teachers were not trained to teach online, while the children need to quickly adapt to a sudden change in schooling style.

Both Suhaimy and Adam lauded the Education Ministry’s (MoE) announcement that this year’s Primary School Achievement Test (UPSR) and Form Three Assessment (PT3) are cancelled.

“I would rather have UPSR postponed or cancelled as the kids would not have enough time to catch up with the syllabus. If they force themselves, it would be very stressful for the students, teachers and parents.

“Learning online and in-person are just not the same. As tuition classes are also on hold, there would be too many things for them to catch up simultaneously, if UPSR (and PT3) were still to be held this year,” Adam said.

Although there will be another method of evaluation to replace the exams, it is safe to say that the MoE’s decision took a lot of burden off many people and children’s shoulders.

Let’s now hope that this alternative method will be a fair one for Malaysian students of all backgrounds and that after the MCO, they can get back on track with their education.

  • Farezza Hanum Rashid is the assistant news editor at The Malaysian Reserve.