By John Isaac
STUDENTS taking examinations such as SPM, STPM, STVM (vocational) and Short-Term Actuarial Mathematics (STAM) will be given priority when school reopens, said Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
In a live Teachers’ Day message today, he said this would enable Covid-16 standard operating procedures (SOPs) such as social distancing to be followed.
On the reopening of schools, which have remained shut since the movement control order came into effect in March, Muhyiddin reiterated that an announcement will be made two weeks before school starts.
“This is to ensure compliance with the SOP which includes procedures to be complied with during the students’ arrival at school, movement to the classrooms, arrangement of desks in the classrooms, movement in the canteen and various other aspects,” he said.
The prime minister also called on teachers to sharpen their skills pertaining to online teaching and home-based learning, saying this will be the new norm in the teaching profession brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He said during the period of ongoing Movement Control Order (MCO), imposed to check the spread of Covid-19, teaching and learning could not be conducted face-to-face and teachers began using a variety of other methods to keep in touch with their pupils and students.
Muhyiddin said, however, that he is aware of some of the constraints in executing home-based online learning because not many students have access to a good Internet service.
“There are many who don’t even have a suitable device. For this group of students, I know that their teachers are using various other methods.
“For instance, I know of teachers who print homework questions for their students and work with the PTAs (Parent-Teacher Associations) to send the questions to the students’ homes,” he said as reported by Bernama.
In this regard, Muhyiddin expressed his greatest appreciation for the determination shown by these teachers as well as parents.
Muhyiddin also expressed his satisfaction over the outcome of the various initiatives in the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, which he said has lifted Malaysia out of the bottom third of the ranking in the international education system.
“I was involved in drafting the blueprint when I was the education minister. At that time, we were so worried about the achievement of our education system, said to be in the bottom third (of the global ranking),” he said.
The prime minister said that thanks to the blueprint, the student outcome in Mathematics in the Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) has increased from 421 points in 2012 to 440 points in 2019.
“It was a similar case in the student outcome in Science, which jumped from 420 points in 2012 to 438 points last year. Congratulations to all of our teachers,” he said.
However, Muhyiddin said, the country’s overall achievement is still below the average of the OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) member countries.
This, he said, called for on teachers to redouble their efforts to raise the quality of education in the country to match world-class education.
“I know this will take time. That is why the Malaysia Education Blueprint was formulated for implementation within a period of 12 years, from 2013 to 2025.
“We have five more years to go to boost the quality of education in the country so that we can be in the top third in quality in the international education system,” he said.
Wishing teachers ‘Happy Teachers’ Day’, he said May 16 is most meaningful for all teachers and it will usually see celebrations with a variety of activities in schools besides the numerous messages and well wishes sent by students to their teachers via WhatsApp, Twitter or Instagram.
This year, he said, the atmosphere of Teachers’ Day is far different from that of the previous occasions because the country is still fighting the war against Covid-19.
“However, this does not mean that we cannot celebrate this very special day for teachers. The deeds, contributions and sacrifices of teachers will never be forgotten. They will continue to be cherished and nourished in our hearts,” he said.