PETALING JAYA: A former deputy minister has urged the government to immediately make it mandatory for schools to conduct blended learning, a combination of face-to-face classes and online delivery.
Dr Lee Boon Chye, who was deputy health minister when Pakatan Harapan was in power, said he believed blended learning should be the standard practice as long as Covid-19 remained a threat.
He suggested reducing school days from five to three.
“The other two days can be for remote learning, or guided self-learning,” he told FMT.
His call followed the temporary closure of many schools in the country because of rises in Covid-19 cases among students and teachers.
One religious school in Kota Kinabalu recently recorded 72 cases.
In Johor, 10 religious schools and 17 primary, secondary and vernacular schools have been closed following the discovery of cases among pupils as well as teachers and other workers.
The National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) is also calling for blended learning.
NUTP secretary-general Harry Tan Huat Hock said the union proposed hybrid learning to the government recently but nothing had been decided.
“The ministry should consult and work with relevant stakeholders before deciding on standard operating procedures (SOPs) for schools,” he said, adding that feedback from the NUTP was relevant as it represented the opinions of people at the grassroots and in the education field.
“If we work together, we can work out better solutions,” he said.
A secondary school teacher in Perak told FMT that SOPs were hard to observe in crowded schools.
“The SOPs might work in smaller schools,” she said. “However, I work in a school with a population of over 1,800 students. It is hard to follow the SOPs consistently as we have limited space.”
She suggested alternate school sessions to facilitate crowd control and said school meetings should be cancelled for the time being.
“I prefer blended learning. Perhaps pupils can take turns to come to school and we can do online classes in alternate weeks.
“Meeting students face to face is easier, but with the current situation, it would be safer for everyone to remain at home.
“Teachers are asked to encourage students to come to school, but we are all worried for our safety as many of us are not vaccinated yet,” she said.