Fourth wave threat may mean return of online learning

More stringent SOPs in schools is the way to go to ensure students’ motivation is retained, says expert


THE threat of a new wave of Covid-19 infections has experts relooking at the return of PdPR, the Education Ministry’s home-based learning system.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs research manager Wan Ya Shin said after one year of disruptions due to Covid-19, the education system should have a clear idea on how to proceed with home-based learning.

“Some of the issues with online learning, such as inaccessibility, are said to have been solved with Didik TV KPM,” she told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR).

She added that what the past year has taught educators is not only that there is no substitute for in-person interaction with teachers, but also online learning is effective and getting better.

“Having access to online learning is just the first step, but enabling and supporting teachers to conduct good quality online classes are needed to improve the experience,” she added.

She believes students and teachers are now more ready for PdPR than before.

“Issues like access to devices, connection quality and conducive learning environments for some children, among others, still persist, so we have no choice but to improve the online learning experience for the children.

These include providing devices to students who are in need, and ensuring the quality of the educational TV programmes, she added.

“We can also train the teachers on how to conduct interactive online classes and how to manage their classrooms in an online setting, set up community centres where urban poor children can go for their online classes and encourage teachers to experiment and be creative with their teaching plans.

“It is a new normal for students and teachers where both parties must learn to adapt to the online setting,” Wan said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Faculty of Film, Theatre and Animation senior lecturer Assoc Prof Dr Mohd Syuhaidi Abu Bakar said it is difficult to say whether all schools should go back to PdPR.

“I believe that the best option here is to regulate the strictest standard operating procedures (SOPs) in schools, monitor students’ performance and refocus them on their learning activities.

“PdPR remains a struggle in terms of devices, Internet quotas, as well as ICT skills and knowledge among teachers and students,” he told TMR.

After a year, Mohd Syuhaidi said not all teachers and students are ready for PdPR.

“Each student and teacher’s experience differ in this matter.

“If we go back to PdPR, then all parties must be prepared from every aspect for another home learning cycle,” he said.

As schools reopened, he felt that students’ motivation to learn was recovering as they could now meet friends and teachers face-to-face, and sit in a proper classroom environment.

“If they return to home learning, they could lose this motivation and may not see the point of online learning. The best way is to tighten the SOPs in schools to avoid the fourth wave.

“The importance of friends and teachers to uplift one’s learning spirit is undeniable,” he added.

He stressed that parents and teachers must not put pressure on the students because their levels of learning vary, especially without face-to-face interaction with teachers.

“Some students may receive PdPR better than others, while others need to learn face-to-face. Parents must also understand the constraints that teachers face and the adjustments that they need to make.

“Both sides must discuss and find a common ground to ensure that students do not give up learning. Another measure that can be taken is to introduce hybrid learning while waiting for the country to achieve herd immunity,” he said.

Yesterday, Malaysia recorded 2,148 new cases, after a month of below 2,000 daily cases.

In Kota Kinabalu (KK), 39 new cases were recorded where nearly all of them were from the school cluster, according to Sabah Covid-19 spokesman Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun.