Measures Revision Addressing Pandemic Urged—Proposal to the MOE from Dong Zong Foreword

Statement Released by Dong Zong

June 4, 2021

Measures Revision Addressing Pandemic Urged—Proposal to the MOE from Dong Zong


Of late, the government has again reactivated the Movement Control Order responsive to the recent Covid-19 outbreak. This evidently indicates the precautious measures taken for the previous year could not alleviate the pandemic spread effectively, hence leaving it run rampant. We reckon, in this critical moment, the ruling government led by the Prime Minister Muhyiddin bin Haji Muhammad Yassin needs to show political determination by revising and adjusting counter pandemic measures and make officials guilty of dereliction accountable for the ravage of the pandemic.

As a private education organisation, Dong Zong worries about the impact of pandemic towards national education. In this pandemic savage, frontline teachers virtually stand firm in their position and try hard to ensure students’ continuous learning. Inevitably, officials from the MOE are expected to exercise their leadership by forwarding preventive measures in order to minimise harm towards students to the lowest level. With this intent, we herewith raise our proposals to the MOE.

1. The assurance of consistent learning for students despite school closure

a. In 2020, a survey was administered by the MOE to 670 thousand parents and 900 thousand students in which 36.9 percent of the students were found not owning the gadgets needed for online learning. Last year, assurance was made by the government to distribute 150 thousand laptops to B40 category families freely, yet up till April only 13,000 laptops were released. This shows the ‘CERDIK’ initiative forwarded by the 13 government-linked investment companies (GLICs) and government-linked companies (GLCs) supervised by the Hasanah Foundation has significantly lagged behind. The MOE is therefore urged to update the latest progress of the ‘CERDIK’ initiative and expedite the promised digital coverage.

b. The educational television network Didik TV KPM was forwarded by the MOE this February to remedy the inadequacies of online teaching. However, there is evidently a shortage of programmes using Chinese and Tamil as medium of instruction and it needs to be revised appropriately. In the meantime, weighing on the disparity between rural and urban living condition, the MOE is expected to further adapt online teaching strategy, along with educational TV channel and educational radio broadcast; it is intended to help the underprivileged students from lagging behind in their learning.

c. In addition to addressing the low-accessibility of the internet, TV network and radio broadcast in inland regions and aboriginal areas, learning exercises and supplementary learning materials in hard copy for consistent learning are anticipated to be dispatched by the MOE.

d. For handicapped students in special education, the MOE needs to provide relevant consultation and home-based learning. It is understood this special group of students cannot learn via distance learning like other students through the internet, TV network and radio broadcast. We thus propose the adaptation of sign language in the to-be-aired programmes.

e. We opine, on the production of relevant propagandistic clips and pamphlets for pandemic precaution, approach taken abroad can be referred to in bid to inform parents on how to promote learning effectiveness via home-based learning.

2. Tracking of students’ learning and caring of teachers and students’ mental and physical health

a. Experts from the UNICEF fear that the ongoing pandemic will pose great impact on students’ learning, resulting in restlessness or dropping out from school, in particular underprivileged students.  Simultaneously, long period’s confinement at home lacking social interactions will possibly affect students’ mental and physical health. Similarly, frontline teachers will feel stressed attuning to the teaching approach in the new normal.

b. In a survey entitled ‘Project ID’ administered to 761 students aged from 13 to 21, two-fifths of the students were discovered to experience problems or mental health issues. In response to this, we believe the MOE needs to set up a longitudinal tracking mechanism to observe students’ learning and provide remedial teaching measures. As informed, countries like Japan and China, etc. had set to employ more counselors in order to suitably provide counselling to relieve students’ stress.

3. Prioritising uses of vaccines for school teachers and staff

a. The MOE had earlier promised to consider all teachers from national and private schools (inclusive of MICSS) as prioritised vaccine users though the progress is unknown hitherto.

b. Apart from teachers, we also urge the MOE to include school staff, school workers, school security guards, canteen and sales operators as prioritised vaccine users.

c. We recommend the government to refer to measure implemented in Singapore by making students sitting for examinations (further studies purpose) prioritised vaccine users.  We also urge the government to moot on the possibility of vaccination for children aged 12 to 18 as soon as possible.

4. Economic stimulus package and educational appropriation

a. In the economic stimulus package and educational appropriation pronounced by the government addressing the pandemic, focus was merely on the setting of online teaching and educational TV network. In terms of educational appropriation, attention needs to be paid on the impact of home-based learning towards students attributed to the closure of schools; as such, more appropriation is expected to be used on educational remedial measures.

b. It is felt non-profit private organisations are most affected and they face greater challenges in this pandemic savage. Therefore, the government is expected to exempt them from HRDF taxation and other relevant taxation to relieve their financial burden.

c. The government needs to proactively extend Public Private Partnership to provide taxation deduction as incentive, thus promoting the social duty of enterprises to generate more resources for educational needs.

5. Revision of school management and operational guidelines

a. The MOE and the Ministry of Health need to jointly convene a working team specifically attending to school closure, school reopening and pandemic precaution to facilitate communication. It is for the unanimous announcement of implementation, so as to prevent ‘too many chiefs and not enough red Indians’ from confusing parents at large.

b. This March, all schools in the country were allowed to reopen though there were confirmed Covid-19 cases of teachers and students which generate dozens more pandemic clusters. In view of this, the MOE is recommended to review and reform the extant Standard Operating Procedure for school pandemic prevention.

c. For school reopening decision, we believe views from regional educators and parent representatives should be considered. Moreover, based on the MOE directives, regional empowerment should be in place on the decision of reopening and closure of school according to the seriousness of pandemic. On this matter, we highly recommend the MOE to refer to the ‘Framework for Reopening Schools’ issued by the UNICEF.