Why close schools in green zones, MP Bandar Kuching queries

Dr Kelvin Yii speaking in Parliament (file picture).

KUCHING, Nov 10: Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching Dr Kelvin Yii today questioned the Minster of Education (MoE) during Parliament sitting today on the rationale behind the sudden decision to close all schools nationwide, even those in the green zone areas.

He said, such sudden decision had affected not just students but also teachers and parents.

“In Sarawak, since the start of the (Covid-19) pandemic in March, large areas still remain green zones, and these mainly are the rural areas where students lack the facilities and guidance to keep up with the needed program. This is the same in places like Pahang, Kelantan and even Perlis which technically are not affected by the Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO).

“Sadly, based on the written answer that was given to me, it seems that the Education Ministry do not have a comprehensive plan or policy to address the “education gap” between the rich and poor and also the urban and rural that will definitely widen due to the closing of schools and the lack of internet and proper equipment for the poor and those in the rural areas,” Dr Yii said in a statement issued here today.

According to him, the answer given by MoE was due to CMCO and concern of the numbers of Covid-19 that seemed to be increasing.

“However, the ministry cannot be reactive to daily numbers, as the virus will be in the community for a long period of time even until next year. They cannot just close all schools every time there is a spike of cases in certain areas.

“The victims are not only the students, but also teachers who are working so hard to be creative and make sure all students are not left behind with the home-based learning direction, and not forgetting parents, who are burdened by this last minute decisions, especially those that are working,” he added.

Dr Yii said, based on answer given by MoE, the only plan the ministry has for those without proper internet and equipment is TV Pendidikan through TV Okey and Tutor TV Astro.

“In reality not only many may not have a TV but such programmes are only 2 hours a day with limited subjects, and is insufficient as a holistic education experience for the students.

“The ministry also say that they will be looking at delivering “education package” to the students especially those living in the rural areas through post, parents-teachers associations or drive-through in schools. However, little was mentioned in how to address the lack of proper facilities, gadgets and even infrastructures,” he said.

He highlighted that a report mentioned that up to 40 per cent of students in Malaysia did not have the proper equipment to do online learning.

“This statistic is definitely higher in states like Sabah, Sarawak, Kelantan and even Pahang. At the end of the day, even with such packages without proper guidance, the students will still be left behind. And poor, B40 students who often rely on the food given in their dormitories, now have no choice but to go back to their villages or homes since all dormitories are also closed, increasing financial burden to the family.

“While I am all for preventing the spread of the virus and protecting our children, but such ‘reactive’ blanket or one-size-fits-all decision have many unintended consequences and speaks volume of the ministry’s unpreparedness of having a proper policy to help the school’s adjust to the ‘new normal’ with proper precautions in place,” added Dr Yii. — DayakDaily