COVID19 – Cancelling exams too simplistic. Where’s the creativity and persistence?KHALED ASKS EDUCATION MINISTRY

ANOTHER Umno stalwart has stepped up to criticise a major decision by the Perikatan Nasional government as the pressure mounts on Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s Cabinet following an array of flip flop decisions, fumbles and controversies that have marred his month-old administration.

Just as Senior Minister (Education) Radzi Jidin was being heralded for making thus far the toughest decision the government has had to make in calling off this year’s UPSR and PT3 examinations, Umno vice president Khaled Nordin today questioned both the hastiness and the lack of alternative measures behind that decision.

In an open letter to Radzi, Khaled, who is also former Johor Menteri Besar, said the Education Ministry should have presented a more comprehensive exit strategy and be more creative with their solutions.

He cited a Channels News Asia report yesterday, that detailed the intermittent circuit breaker strategy as a measure that should be adopted by all governments to cushion the immediate impact of the Covid 19 pandemic on health, the economy and education.

“The Movement Control Order (MCO) will not be effective as merely as a one-off solution. It requires a periodical implementation through a ‘switch on, switch off’ strategy,” said Khaled, adding that the Education Ministry should have exhausted all alternatives before making the damning decision to cancel the PT3 and UPSR exams this year.

“We have to accept that the MCO will be the new normal, the process of learning, assessing and evaluating are also important facets of an education system. It is just the implementation that has to be different, without cancelling it all,” said Khalid.

He stated that even countries that are more badly affectly by Covid 19 such as Germany, their education system did not come to a halt but instead schools will be opened inn stages from May 4, with priority given to the cohorts which will be having exams and a similar approach was in place in Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. He said as such, the ministry should consider such measures by allowing the cohorts scheduled for exams to either attend school or seek online solutions.

Khalid also criticised Radzi’s rationale that almost 40 percent of students were not connected to the internet, stating that it was the government’s job to provide access with priority given to the cohorts facing exams.

He explained that the ministry should have looked at mechanisms that would have allowed the education system in the green zones to continue and those in the red zones could have had their exams postponed to a date when it was safe to continue, instead of coming up with a simplistic one size fits all solution.

“As such, with a plan that involves sanitising and comprehensive physical distancing, those in the green zones should be allowed to continue their education productively. Education should not be stopped under any circumstances as it is the source of our persistence as a nation. Any form of suspension of entry to educational faclities or education itself is counter-productive as all of it can be done online,” said Khalid.

He said if foreign universities with campuses here have already migrated to online registration and even new students have began their studies through online course, with regular classes to resume once things are back to normal.

“As such, the registration of new intake of our institutions of higher learning too have to be kept moving as scheduled. Martriculation centres and public universities have no excuse to not seamlessly resume operations via online methods,” said Khalid.

“Education, as we are used to, will only resume when things are back to normal and nobody knows when that will be. Malaysia has to win this war aginst Covid 19. And persevering with education within the limitations of this new normal is a part of that victory. I urge the Education Ministry to lead this generation of youth in the face of this pandemic through the strengthening of their resolve, hard work, creativity and extraordinary effort by persevering with learning, educating and examinations, be it through alternative methods.”

Education Minister Radzi Jidin