To Finish off Uncomplete Tasks of Previous Tenure Urged— Dong Jiao Zong Prompts MOE to complete with Concerted Effort

Joint Statement Released by Dong Zong and Jiao Zong

August 27, 2021

To Finish off Uncomplete Tasks of Previous Tenure Urged—

Dong Jiao Zong Prompts MOE to complete with Concerted Effort

Immediate after the announcement of the new cabinet line-up, we opine the major tasks to be tackled by the new Prime Minister Ismail Sabri bin Yaakob comprise economic recovery, the narrowing of gap between the rich and the poor as well as facing up to educational challenges. As the former Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin and Deputy Minister Mah Hang Soon are reassuming the same posts in this cabinet line-up, they are expected to come up with post-pandemic teaching plans and finish off the tasks scheduled in their last tenure besides mapping a succinct school reopening plan; these uncomplete tasks include the additional recruitment of teachers in vernacular primary Chinese schools and the mechanism for gender equality in school campus, etc.

Weighing on the raging pandemic, we maintain that the school reopening plan is intended for both pandemic prevention and students’ learning needs. With regard to the school reopening plan, considerations should take locations, educators and parent representatives into account; concurrently, regional units need to be empowered in congruence with the MOE guidelines for decision on closure and reopening of schools depending on diverse situation. Simultaneously, we strongly recommend the MOE to refer to the Framework for Reopening School published by the UNESCO lately for upcoming implementation.

We herewith forward our proposals proper:

1. School teachers to get vaccinated: The Perikatan Nasional government had promised to prioritise all teachers in both national and private schools (MICSSs inclusive) nationwide to get vaccinated against COVID-19, yet no update is announced by the new MOE thus far. Apart from teachers, we believe candidates sitting for level promotion examination this year need to get vaccinated earlier, including school staff, general affairs workers, security guards and canteen operators. More importantly, whether students aged from 12 to 17 are to receive vaccination should be finalised shortly.

2. Redress of inequality in education: The MOE should publish whether the 150 thousand laptops promised by the former Perikatan Nasional government to students from low-income families are properly dispatched. As there is disparity between rural and urban areas in living condition, the MOE needs to prevent the worsening of education inequality prevailing rural areas through online classes, educational TV channels and radio broadcasts. Moreover, subject exercises in hard-copy and supplementary learning materials need to be sent to unreachable TV and radio coverage regions and aboriginal areas in order to alleviate lagging learning progress and intensified educational inequality imputed to school closure.

3. Concern for teachers’ spiritual and physical health and track learning effectiveness: The closure of schools impacts students’ learning progress, in particular socioeconomically underprivileged students; they are feared to lag behind attributed to sustaining school closure and may lose interest in studies or worse still, drop out from schools. Similarly, teachers will be stressed out by the new teaching model. To address the issue, the MOE is urged to establish a long-term tracking system to keep tabs on students’ learning as well as introducing relevant remedied measures to provide stress relieving counselling for both teachers and students timely.

4. To finish off uncomplete tasks of previous tenure: In terms of Chinese education issues like the systematic appropriation for MICSSs and three privately-run tertiary institutions, the shortage of teachers in vernacular Chinese primary schools as well as the recognition of the UEC, there is ample room for the late Perikatan Nasional government to make improvement. Hitherto the MOE has not released the report of the gender bullying case took place at school, let alone the remedied mechanism for gender equality in school campus. It is reckoned the digital gap generated by distance teaching practised during the pandemic has impacted the learning right of students in rural region; inevitably, the MOE and the Ministry of Higher Learning are expected to resolve the matter by optimising the infrastructure of internet. These unfinished tasks left by the former MOE need to be finished off by the reappointed ministers with concerted effort in the new cabinet line-up.