Be decisive MOE, keep schools opened or go online

By Stephen Ng


I FIND the recent decision by the Ministry of Education (MOE) to close schools in a number of states for two days and another two weeks after the Hari Raya festive season to be rather disconcerting. 

Comparing this with former Minister of Education, Maszlee Malik, this again, is probably due to the minister, Datuk Dr Mohd Radzi Jidin’s lack of experience in running a ministry which involves a few hundred thousand of students. 

Young lives are currently placed on the altar due to the ministry’s lack of decisiveness. Somehow, a firm decision has to be made as soon as possible, either to keep the schools opened or close them indefinitely until such time when the situation improves.  

We have to be prepared as a nation for the third wave of the pandemic looking at the spike of number of cases in India. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), four cases of the South African variant have been detected in Malaysia, and currently, checking of temperatures can only detect 20% of the cases especially with the asymptomatic cases. 

In my two earlier articles, I had suggested that the education ministry should review its decision to return to physical classes. Children being children would not follow standard operating procedures (SOPs) strictly. 

This, coupled with packed school buses and daycare centres, is the hotbed for the spread of the COVID-19 virus.

However, when the ministry decided to proceed with its physical classes, I have urged all stakeholders to come together to protect the children’s safety above everything else.

In my second article recently, I had suggested a strategy to isolate and control the spread of the virus without having to shut down the whole school. Only the classes affected should be shut down for sanitisation purposes. 

However, now with so many schools in a number of states being told to close for two days for sanitisation purposes, it would only make more sense if the MOE revert to online classes, especially in “red zone” states where there is a drastic increase in the number of cases. This would at least ensure that the children’s education is not disrupted by ad hoc closure of the schools.

Since the internet connectivity is a major challenge, the other way is to handle urban and rural schools differently depending on the number of COVID-19 cases in each state.  

Otherwise, many of the students who do not attend physical classes will find it difficult to follow the lessons. Teachers and school principals are facing great stress, when some parents want online classes while others want physical classes.

Under such circumstances, the ministry should take a proactive role in streamlining the classes, instead of trying to manoeuvre its way around, making it more difficult for parents who are working full time. They would have to look for daycare centres which would take their children in, while the parents are back to office.

At this juncture, it would be advisable for all urban schools in “red alert” states to switch to online classes until such time when the situation is under control. More online resources produced professionally should be produced in line with the school syllabus to benefit the children. – April 28, 2021


Stephen Ng is an ordinary Malaysian who has contributed his thoughts on a number of issues to stimulate the country’s thinking public.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.


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