Parents want better online teaching, learning
CONCERNED parents have questioned if teachers genuinely have their students’ best interests at heart following the poor execution of the home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) method, which has been implemented nationwide.
They have expressed concern about the effectiveness and weaknesses in PdPR such as the inability to properly access a student’s learning growth, the lengthy and unproductive online sessions and not tackling the internet accessibility issues faced by poor communities.
School sessions are set to resume with PdPR for two weeks, from May 16 to 27, for schools in Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu and, from May 17 to 28, for schools in Perlis, Penang, Perak, Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Pahang, Sabah, Sarawak, Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.
Parents Action Group for Education (PAGE) chairman Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said students still lack guidance from teachers.
“It is pivotal that teachers guide their students on selecting the programmes to watch. They should guide the students on online learning, too, and not leave them to self-study.”
She said the Education Ministry has made a wrong move to dismiss the opportunity to shorten holidays and make up for lost learning time, adding that parents are not only struggling with their children’s poorly assisted education but also keeping their jobs and putting food on the table.
“After the Hari Raya holidays and then after 10 days of PdPR, the students will be on mid-term holidays again,” she said.
Education Minister Radzi Jidin had said the extended PdPR would prevent the spread of Covid-19 in schools after the festival.
The Health Ministry had said schools had 83 Covid-19 clusters, involving 4,868 cases, detected in the educational sector ever since physical classes resumed, from January 1 to April 20.
Malacca Action Group for Parents in Education (Magpie) chairman Mak Chee Kin suggested that teachers make instructional videos on each chapter and upload them onto a school learning management system (LMS).
He said this would provide students with the chance to revisit these lectures for revision later.
“It would help if we had a system like LMS where we can have access to see how far a child’s study has progressed. Weekly or monthly quizzes for formative assessment should be held online,” he said.
“Children are more resilient than adults with the digital evolution. They do well with structured learning times, but there are times when these are long hours and without breaks.
“MOE (Ministry of Education) has to look into the welfare of the students juggling these classes and also their teachers manoeuvring several classes without a break.”
He also urged Putrajaya to urgently provide internet access for all.
“Even the promise of 150,000 laptops in the federal budget is not fulfilled,” Mak said.
“If it is too taxing to help individual families, maybe the government should consider building computer resource centres at each village or have a public-private partnership or any ideal place.”
Samantha Yeoh, parenting coach and mother of children aged four, five and seven, said the ministry should have a plan by now to streamline resources after the country faced a year of battling the pandemic.
“Whether it is cutting down the syllabus to its essentials, helping the B40 group to afford tablets, working with local authorities or working with organisations, the MOE should have been more prepared in dealing with such issues,” she said.
She said her seven-year-old daughter does six periods in a day, which makes a minimum of three hours in a day for online learning.
“Some days, it is consecutive; some days, it’s broken up. It’s not a reasonable expectation for children to study for three hours continuously,” she said.
“Talking from a standpoint of primary school children, the expectations on them to sit and listen and process without much going on on the screen is quite a tall order, a big ask of them.
“It is not a fair game even for the older children when much of the online learning currently leans on auditory learning.”
Despite the current system, Yeoh said, as a parent, she will try her best to ensure her child attends every class.
“But whether she pays attention, whether she can cope and do all the work, is another story,” she said.
She also questioned if it is important for teachers to complete the existing syllabus or whether a revamp or adjustment is needed.
“Teachers have a set of curriculum to finish and we are also trying to keep abreast,” she said.
“But what is essential? What is important during this pandemic now?”
She said the rush to complete the curriculum does not contribute to the students’ growth and can strain relationships between parents and children.
“For our child, if at all she learns nothing during this Covid-19 period, my hope is that she at least picks up a new language.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT