Sunday, September 19

Ex-education minister suggests vaccinating SPM, STPM students to facilitate return to schools in post-Covid recovery plan


Maszlee Malik — Malay Mail photo

KUALA LUMPUR (June 17): Schools could be reopened earlier than September if the government considers Covid-19 vaccinations for teachers and students sitting for the STPM and SPM examinations this year, Maszlee Malik suggested.

The former education minister from May 2018 to January 2020 was weighing in on the recently announced National Recovery Plan (NRP) and expressed concern for the “lost generation” of children whose schooling has been disrupted since the pandemic began.

“They should address this matter seriously, and deal with it with data and science. We would like to hear what MoE’s (Ministry of Education) mitigation and correction plan is for the ‘lost generation’,” he told Malay Mail when contacted yesterday.

“The plan must include all stakeholders from government agencies, institutions, non-governmental associations and the community. Education is everybody’s responsibility.

“Until today we have not heard and seen any plan to deal with this situation,” Maszlee said.

The Simpang Renggam MP suggested the government use schools to vaccinate the students and teachers, adding that if such an inoculation programme could be completed by next month, classrooms could be reopened for those taking national examinations like the SPM and STPM this year.

“The vaccination programme could be done at schools through mobile vaccination centres unfortunately, this was not part of the plan announced.

“The plan neglects education in comparison to other economic related matters.” he said

Maszlee added that there is currently a lack of education material for parents on how they should assist their children with online teaching and learning, which is currently the main studying method used by students nationwide.

He said more material for parents can be cultivated through the cooperation between MoE, the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia, along with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development — distributed through television, radio and social media.

“Likewise, It is timely for RTM to have a specific education channel akin to the British Broadcasting Corporation’s CBBC, Cbeebies, and BBC4 channels.

“We are still waiting for MCMC’s Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah to fulfill the promise he made on January 22 that RTM will produce its own education channel

“That will be useful to help the children, provided the programs must not be according to the schools timetable like those of DidikTV, but full of higher quality contents similar to BBC’s,” he said.

The NRP as announced last Monday by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin provides the government’s exit outline for Malaysia which has been grappling with surges in Covid-19 infections complicated by the emergence of several new variants since last October, triggered by a state election in Sabah.

The NRP is a timeline — split into four phases — for when important economic and social activities will be allowed to resume, according to three main criteria, namely; daily Covid-19 cases, the capacity of intensive care units (ICU) nationwide, and the number of people vaccinated against the novel coronavirus.

Schools are set to reopen in September, under Phase 3, when daily cases are expected to drop below the 2,000 mark, ICU capacity is at a “comfortable” level, and at least 40 per cent of the population is inoculated. — Malay Mail