Covid-19 Education Clusters Distressing

DUE to the sharp rise of Covid-19 education clusters in the country lately, the government, through the Education Ministry (MoE) and Higher Education Ministry (MOHE), should strongly consider allowing schools and universities to go back to online teaching and learning until it is safe and conducive for us to conduct face-to-face teaching and learning.

As the country is still struggling with the high number of daily reported Covid-19 infections, especially involving pupils and students, and with the new Omicron variant, we need to ask ourselves if it is safe for schools and universities to conduct face-to-face classes?

Although there are complaints over the online teaching and learning process, relevant parties can take immediate steps to make necessary improvements and adjustments to the system.

Online learning is not new to us. We implemented this method of teaching in 2020 and 2021. By now, everyone should be able to adapt to this modern approach.

As such, bringing back this mode should not be a problem.

What is important is the safety of our students.

Students need to feel safe in order to focus on their studies effectively.

If they do not feel confident with the environment at school or university, they will find it hard to concentrate on their studies.

In the meantime, both MoE and MOHE should initiate a back-up plan in case Covid-19 cases continue to rise in the country.

University students will also need to spend a lot of money to go back to campus.

It would be disappointing for these students if universities are told to close again few days or weeks after classes resume.

The students would again end up spending unnecessary money on travel, flights and accommodation and rental deposits, only to be told later that face-to-face classes are cancelled.

As such, it is crucial for MoE and MOHE to come up with a plan to deal with the matter soon before semesters begin. The proposed plan will need to be drafted and announced immediately so students and parents can make necessary preparations.

Many students currently are in a fix as to what the standard operating procedures are for returning to varsities.

We should also give students time to be mentally and emotionally prepared if they are required to continue with online classes.

Meanwhile, MoE and MOHE should draft a comprehensive plan on the process of online learning for schools and universities as part of our national education policy, which can be fully and permanently implemented throughout the country.

Although a plan to utilise online learning has been developed and implemented in some schools and universities few years back, it has not been implemented entirely. Only when we are facing an emergency like today, and with the closure of schools and universities, are we forced to apply a modern method of teaching.

Despite complaints over the use of online learning, this should not hamper our efforts to make use of technology as part of our national education policy in the long-term.

The government should strengthen its use across all educational sectors. A budget should be allocated for this so it can be a success.

Our educators and students should be given enough facilities and training to make online learning a permanent reality, and not just to be used or utilised during emergencies.


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