Comprehensive education blueprint needed

Dr Kelvin Yii
Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: The Ministry of Education (MOE) has been urged to work together with the Ministry of Health (MOH) to come up with a comprehensive education blueprint to address issues affecting schools during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said this must include clear and specific parameters and considerations used to decide the opening and closing of schools in case of an outbreak or a surge of cases in an area.

“I propose three main things the ministry must undertake immediately to properly address the current situation especially here in Sarawak. First, is to close all schools in the red and orange zones for at least two weeks to help break the spread of infection in the schools.

“By continuing on with classes, the students and teachers are distracted by the rising cases as well as disrupting their learning momentum,” he said in a Facebook post on Sunday (April 18).

Secondly, he said during the period of school closure, the ministry must come up with a hybrid system or rotating system for schools in high-risk areas where classes are rotated on different days thus reducing the number of students in school.

“Some who can follow home-based learning will be allowed to do it at home and those that cannot, be allowed to come to school. The ministry must then train and equip all teachers to help adapt to such a system during this period and not let them to figure things out on their own,” he pointed out.

“Thirdly, the ministry must be transparent on crucial information on Covid-19 outbreaks in schools so that parents will make an informed choice for what is best for their children in such a situation.

“With clear and specific parameters, parents can then evaluate whether to send their children to school, or even for the District Education Department to make decisions when to open or close schools,” he stressed, adding that such decisions must be based on facts and data and not any political consideration.

“Currently with the spike of cases in Sarawak and even around the country, parents and even teachers are worried about their safety and the safety of the children that have gone to school.

“It is reported that up to 186 schools nationwide and up to 112 schools in Sarawak had seen infections since reopening under the instructions of the MOE,” he said.

Dr Yii noted that the decision to open schools was tough as there were many factors to consider especially balancing the need to protect the health of children, and also to make sure they were not left out from their studies especially among the poorer students and those living in rural areas.

“That is why I urge the MOE to be proactive and come up with a comprehensive plan before more and more of our students and teachers suffer even more. We cannot waste this time again like we wasted the full year without coming out with a comprehensive system.

“Schools cannot just simply open and close based on daily numbers, and this cannot go on forever especially as many experts are expecting Covid-19 to be endemic,” he said.

Which is why a clear system must be in place for any eventualities, he added.