All five million Malaysian students were sent back physically to school despite the increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country.
This after secondary school students—who were covered in the last phase—have been allowed to return to in-face classes on Monday, a report by The Straits Times said.
Malaysia began welcoming students on March 1, albeit the initiative was done on a staggard basis.
Pre-schoolers and primary pupils were the first to be sent to school, followed a week later by those belonging in years three to six.
According to the report, the reason that the secondary school students were the last to physically return was to make way for the 2020 Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) and Sijil Tinggi Persekolahan Malaysia (STPM) exams which were deferred to early this year.
Schools in Malaysia were ordered closed since March 18 last year amid the imposition of a lockdown measure aimed at keeping the coronavirus outbreak at bay.
Even before then, a few schools had announced temporary closure after some students and lecturers tested positive for Covid-19.
On July 15 in the same year, primary and secondary schools reopened albeit in phases, until ordered shut again in October due to the resurgence in infection rates.
On November 9, Malaysia closed all schools as cases continued to climb.
Parent Action Group for Education chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim was quoted as saying that the benefits of attending school far outweighed the risks.
“We have to consider academic learning, mental health issues, and the home environment and it would appear that the best for kids is to be in school,” he said.
“We cannot assume that everything was fine when we moved to online learning because it wasn’t. Hardly any learning has been done for the past year, ” she added.
According to Rahim, the Education Ministry should not pretend that there was no lost learning the past year, adding that it must revamp its curriculum right away.
“It’s not just about moving forward but also closing the gap and retaining what was lost in the past year after the pandemic pushed some students even further backward,” she said.
“We must cut out the banter and non-core subjects and make the curriculum more compact than before. We can’t go back to what we were used to before,” she added.