KUALA LUMPUR — The announcement of a renewed conditional movement control order (CMCO) last month was greeted by dread by some working parents in Klang Valley who admitted to being overwhelmed by homeschooling their children in the first round of the partial lockdown.
But as the academic calendar now nearing the year-end school holiday with CMCO in place, several parents polled by Malay Mail are now pleading with the Ministry of Education (MOE) to intervene and develop a suitable syllabus and system to ensure their children’s development should another lockdown is called in the future.
IT professionals like Keith Lee and Jess Goo, who are parents of a 10-year old and nine-year-old, lamented the lack of clarity and clear directions from Putrajaya, saying the situation has forced them to develop new multitasking skills almost overnight to juggle the avalanche of responsibilities.
To tackle this problem also shared by others, Lee suggested the formation of a central body to coordinate and help synchronise schools to streamline online lessons, and methods that do not rigidly rely on existing text books.
The central team can join the class and guide. Also instead of creating teaching media on books, it can be moved to online with videos and online exercises centrally created,” he told Malay Mail.
Lee related how online lessons seemed to be more limited, which inevitably means that children would learn less at home than if they were in school.
But he acknowledged that some schools may not even be equipped with the right technological facilities for this transition to happen immediately, but suggested alternative solutions.
“These schools will need to be equipped with devices for teachers and [schools could maybe] loan devices to students who need them,” he proposed.
PhD candidate, lecturer, and mother-of-three Fatimah Tajudin, 34, said the MOE should be taking its cues from home-school centres’ teaching methods and their approach in educating children, saying she feels the current system lacks efficiency.
With first hand experience of having to hire additional help due to her intense schedule, the lecturer suggested alternative methods as practiced by home-school centres, to better prepare both parents and teachers adjusting to home-schooling.
“We should not have to rely on online learning per se and think about other methods or learning kits that the ministry can provide for teachers and parents,” she said.
Another couple, husband Lokman Khairil, 45 and wife Nurain Nazurah Mahmad Zamri, 42, said they hope that MOE comes up with a proper plan to address how easily students, such as their 12-year-old child, get distracted during online classes.
“As a mother, I’m actually concerned that school might be closed until the end of this year as my son has been complaining about how he is easily distracted attending online classes. I think the government should properly plan about how these students will cope with this kind of alternative,” Nurain said.
Meanwhile, a father of a 18-year-old and a 15-year-old, Abdul Bariah, 48 and wife Mizaha Yasin, 46 felt that the government should have a specific research team on improving current local education policies during the pandemic.
“Specific research teams from the government bodies needed as requirements for effectiveness have been largely absent for many because online education during the pandemic has impeded teaching and learning,” Abdul Bariah told Malay Mail.
Yesterday, educational lobbyist group Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) had also urged the MOE to come up with a clear guideline of the standard operating procedure (SOP) for the SPM examination.
Its honorary secretary Tunku Munawirah Putra said the best time to try out the SOP is during the SPM trial examinations, noting that school administrators “are scrambling to find the best way” to conduct the trials.
“Parents and students are concerned over the loss of lessons, and some students are now dependent on tuition centres for those who are privy enough to have alternative lessons and learning.
“Perhaps schools should reopen only for Form 5 with strict SOP,” it said in a statement.
Tunku Munawirah compared this with the SOPs that are already been set up for international examinations such as the A Levels, O Levels and the International General Certificate of Secondary Education (IGCSE).
“It would serve the MOE well to look into the SOP that is being practised at international schools and exam centres They would most likely have the highest number of students taking the tests at this moment,” she said.
Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya are currently under a CMCO that has now been extended until November 9 due to a spike of Covid-19 cases nationwide.
Similarly, Sabah and Labuan are also under the CMCO, until November 9 and November 13 respectively.
This comes the MOE revised the school term earlier this year due to the pandemic, with school to be closed between December 18 and December 31.
Should the CMCO is further extended by two more weeks after November 9, there would be less than a month left of schooling before the year-end holiday starts.
Since the implementation of CMCO, teachers and students who have been forced to move from a classroom setting to an online classroom with little to no guidance, with many parents struggling to cope.
Most schools have resorted to figuring things out on their own to help the children the best way they can, with many just waiting for MOE to come up with plan fast to help streamline education.