‘Students Well Taken Care of’

KUALA LUMPUR: Lasagna, barbequed chicken and grilled lamb.

These are examples of food enjoyed by students stranded at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was imposed 27 days ago.

The university’s Kolej Ibu Zain college master, Anuar Ahmad, said this when sharing about the students’ lives amid the global pandemic.

He is responsible for students’ wellbeing, including their food, lodging and welfare.

“This is their home. It has been their home away from home even before the pandemic and the enforcement of the MCO. Here, we treat everyone equally, just like our own children,” he told the New Straits Times.

There are 180 local and international students living at the college.

The higher education minister had announced that tertiary students in campuses or elsewhere should remain where they are.

Anuar said this was the best decision for students. He said while parents were missing their children, and vice versa, transporting 80,000 students home, including to Sabah and Sarawak, would be a logistical nightmare.

“I cannot imagine how we are supposed to sort out the transportation of these students. All it takes is one slip-up and we’re back to square one with the pandemic.

“There are 80,000 students nationwide. There could be 80,000 chances of a slip-up. I was a bit worried when Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Noraini Ahmad initially considered ways to transport students home.”

He said at that time, students had started sharing baju raya ideas and were making plans to pack their things.

He said giving false hope would not help with students’ wellbeing.

“We will do our best to keep students in high spirits. We need to stay where we are and do our part as responsible citizens.

“It’s hard for everyone as we cannot go about our normal routines.”

He said students were adjusting their habits by practising social distancing and avoiding crowded places.

The senior lecturer at UKM’s Centre of Community Education and Wellbeing at the Faculty of Education said students were given breakfast, lunch and dinner daily.

Cafeterias at the university have come up with menus based on the Higher Education Ministry’s guidelines.

“We allow caterers to use their creativity to prepare food for students as long as it is within the budget. It was interesting to see what they are capable of doing.

“Two days ago (Saturday), the students had lasagna. Yesterday (Sunday), they ‘celebrated’ the end of Phase Two of the MCO with barbequed chicken and grilled lamb,” said Anuar. He urged parents not to worry about their children as they were well taken care of.

There are 1,400 students on campus. Assistance is also given to students off campus.

“We have details of all stranded students, on and off campus, and we put everyone in a group chat.”

UKM’s off-campus students are given daily essentials, such as rice, sugar, flour.

“If they need anything, they only need to let us know in the group and members from the action team will send necessities directly to them. This way, we get to monitor them in real-time.

“As college master, the wellbeing of students is our top priority. Although we don’t see them every day face to face, every student has equal access to us.

“If a male student is having a tummy ache, we will call a medical response team who will come and check on him.”

UKM’s Health Centre is open 24 hours a day since the start of the MCO period. The university also mobilises its team of counsellors to regularly check on students’ emotional wellbeing.

Source: https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/04/584141/students-well-taken-care

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