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File picture of a student having his temperature checked at Sekolah Kebangsaan Cator Avenue, Ipoh, March 1, 2021. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) education committee today called on the Ministry of Education (MOE) to reconsider the decision of reopening schools on September 1.  — Picture by Farhan Najib
File picture of a student having his temperature checked at Sekolah Kebangsaan Cator Avenue, Ipoh, March 1, 2021. The Pakatan Harapan (PH) education committee today called on the Ministry of Education (MOE) to reconsider the decision of reopening schools on September 1. — Picture by Farhan Najib

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KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) education committee has called on the Ministry of Education (MOE) to reconsider the decision of reopening schools on September 1.

This call was made based on a poll the Opposition coalition had recently conducted to gauge the public’s preparedness in sending their children back to school amid the worsening Covid-19 situation in the country.

“This has caused a lot of anger in the community,” the PH education committee said in a statement, referring to the decision to reopen schools.

From a poll the committee conducted from August 11 to 13, 421,446 respondents who participated in the poll were parents, teachers and school staff.

Out of this number, 94.6 per cent (398,687 respondents) did not agree for the school to open on September 1, while only 5.4 per cent agreed.

“The number of Covid-19 cases is increasing, as well as the number of mortality makes parents reluctant to gamble with their children’s safety.

“In addition, various polls have also been conducted by many parties through online platforms whereby respondents voiced their protest on the decision to reopen schools on September 1.

“This needs to be addressed seriously by the ministry in making a decision on the matter,” the committee said.

The PH education committee is headed by former education minister and independent Simpang Renggam MP Maszlee Malik, his former deputy Teo Nie Ching (DAP-Kulai), Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (PKR-Setiawangsa), Datuk Hasan Bahrom (Amanah-Tampin), Natrah Ismail (PKR-Sekijang), Steven Sim Chee Keong (DAP-Bukit Mertajam), and Rusnah Aluai (PKR-Tangga Batu).

The committee has also urged the Education Ministry to make decisions based on data and science, on the guidelines provided by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

“MOE must have a clear, comprehensive and strategic plan, convincing and relevant to the school’s opening and closing guidelines, developed jointly with health experts from WHO, Unesco, Unicef, Health Ministry, and Universiti Malaya Hospital experts. 

“These transparent plans and standard operating procedures (SOPs) must be presented to the people,” it said.

The government must also avoid making decisions based on the “one size fits all” method, the committee added.

“Centralised decisions will not help, and will result in many students to drop out, the emergence of school clusters and has proven to fail before.

“The Education Minister must first present a special SOP for students who fall under the non-vaccinated category, before proceeding with their decision to reopen a school,” it said.

At the same time, the Education Ministry stressed that there is also a need to complete the vaccination process on all who are involved in the education ecosystem from teachers, school workers, including canteen staff, security guards and drivers of school transportation without an exception. 

 “The government also needs to review to allow vaccination programmes on students who are sitting for major examinations — SPM, STAM and STPM.

“Many parents agreed to the decision to allow these children to return to school if their children have been vaccinated,” the committee said.

The Education Ministry had in July announced that schools will reopen in stages for face-to-face classes starting from September 1.

The ministry reportedly said that home-based teaching and learning will continue until August 31.

This, according to the ministry, applies to all government schools, government-aided schools, private schools and educational institutions registered with them.

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