Not all Form 5, Upper 6 classes can resume on June 24

Minister of Education, Science and Technological Research Datuk Seri Michael Manyin Jawong (third left) with State Education Director Abang Mat Ali Abang Masagus (right) showing the statement and procedures of the reopening of schools in Sarawak. Also seen from left are Deputy Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of of Education, Science and Technological Research Dr Abdul Rahman Deen and Permanent Secretary for the Ministry of of Education, Science and Technological Research Kamri Affandi. Photos: Ramidi Subari

KUCHING: Not all Form 5 and Upper 6 classes in Sarawak are able to resume on June 24 as set by the federal government, said Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Sri Michael Manyin.

He said this was because not all teachers would be able to arrive at their respective stations due to limited flights and the need to be quarantined for 14 days upon their arrival.

“There are 2,664 teachers who are currently in Peninsular Malaysia, Labuan and Sabah. Due to the limited number of flights into the state and the high costs involved, many of these teachers are facing problem.

“The state government with the assistance of Sarawak Volunteers under Works Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof, is working with the airlines to bring these teachers and their dependents back to Sarawak before June 20. I believe all teachers will be able to come here by June 24 since the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) has allowed full capacity for all flights from Kuala Lumpur to enter to the state.

“All these teachers are supposed to report for duty at their respective schools on June 9 but since they would need to undergo quarantine for 14-days, I believe not all schools can be able to start on the date,” he told reporters at a press conference in Baitul Makmur here on Thursday.

Manyin said teachers who serve in urban schools would be issued with 14-day stay home notice while those stationed in rural schools will be quarantined at quarantine centres (hotels) for 14 days.

While supporting the federal Ministry of Education’s decision to reopen schools in stages starting with students in Form 5 and Upper 6 classes, Manyin pointed out that his ministry had to take a more assertive approach because most of the schools in Sarawak were conducting double sessions.

Manyin said his ministry and state education department (JPN) along with district education departments (PPD) would visit all 188 schools in Sarawak next Monday (June 15) to address challenges faced by these double session schools.

He said this was necessary in order to ensure the safety of the students and teachers.

“There are 188 schools in Sarawak and out of this, 41 are double-session schools.

“First, we have limited number of the classrooms in schools. Unlike in the Peninsula, in Sarawak, usually one class occupies 40 students because of the limited number of classrooms. And as Federal Education Ministry has set that one class can only occupy 20 students, therefore, we need to discuss with all principals of these 188 schools to find a solution on how we can address this issue.

“Secondly, the double-session schools also provide dormitory for students from rural areas. And most of the dorms are provided with double bunker beds. We need to discuss these related issues not only with the principal but also wardens to ensure that students can practise social distancing,” he explained.

Manyin also gave his assurance to parents that his ministry and state education department would do their best to ensure the school environment was safe from Covid-19.

“I am confident that with a comprehensive SOP and guidelines, we can work together to eradicate the Covid-19 virus,” he added.

On the matter of online learning, Manyin said online learning was not applicable in Sarawak due to limited internet access.

“This is not applicable in our state because there are parents who cannot afford to buy tablets, computers or any other digital facilities for their children.

“Besides that, most of the schools in rural areas are not well-equipped with the facilities and have limited Internet connection,” he added.

It was reported that a total of 41,088 Form 5 and Upper 6 students in the state would be taking their delayed examinations in February 2021.

Out of this, 34,306 Form 5 students will be sitting for national examinations including Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Vokasional Malaysia (SVM).

A total of 6,782 Upper 6 students will be sitting for the Sijil Tinggi Pelajaran Malaysia (STPM) and Sijil Tinggi Agama Malaysia (STAM).

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