#SuaraPelajar campaign regains momentum as Form Five students speak up about how MCO 2.0 is affecting their mental health

Students practice social distancing at SMK Anderson in Ipoh June 24, 2020. In the open letter using that hashtag, the students said their mental health is suffering from the movement control order (MCO). ― Picture by Farhan Najib
Students practice social distancing at SMK Anderson in Ipoh June 24, 2020. In the open letter using that hashtag, the students said their mental health is suffering from the movement control order (MCO). ― Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 — A grassroots hashtag campaign by secondary school students called #SuaraPelajar, Malay for “voice of students”, has regained traction since yesterday following a new anonymous open letter shared by Form Five students nationwide.

In the open letter using that hashtag, the students said their mental health is suffering from the movement control order (MCO), that is also stopping them from seeking professional help.

The letter added that the short gap between the now-postponed SPM examination for 2020 and its trial exam has also placed an overwhelming stress among exam takers, including worry for their health in attending school.

Since yesterday, the hashtag has been used by secondary school students who are seeking public awareness for their plight.

 

“As we’ve been told, some students (batch 2003 SPM candidates) have just started their trial exams on Monday (January 11) and will finish in two or three weeks.

“By the time these students who’ve finished the SPM trials, they’ll only be left with one week until SPM starts. All the tension from examinations is really overwhelming,” the open letter said.

The post further clarified that it insisted for “alteration not a cancellation” of the examinations in order to help the students get their certificate before entering universities or applying for a job.

“We are worth so much more than just an exam, our mental health worth so much more than maintaining standards,” it said, asking others to share their plight using the hashtag.

The hashtag was initially used by 18-year-old student, Sally Nur Dinie Lim, who started the movement early this year and used it to seek help for students affected by the MCO. Sally and her team have clarified that the new movement is not correlated to her team’s initiative.

 

Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman was among those who first brought public attention to the movement, after he received many direct messages on social media about the issue.

“I can’t imagine how stressed out they are now. They have to face SPM with very short preparation and limited time in school,” he posted on Twitter.

Another user on Twitter, Hariz Kamil at @harizkamil22 also said many universities have already asked for trial results, and the continuation of SPM will delay their entrance to universities.

“We have no time to waste and we have lost our motivation when studying online! Students are struggling,” posted.

Another user @Saeruchi1 also said that the government needs to consider an alternative plan to replace SPM as the students are already at their limits.

“We are struggling [with] mental health now. ‘Just keep the momentum’? What’s that? I don’t think I can handle [it] anymore. We are at the brink of giving up,” the user said.

Last year, the Ministry of Education had rescheduled the dates of major examinations, with the SPM to be held on February 9, postponed from November 16 last year.

However, Putrajaya has just announced a new MCO in six states that would only be scheduled to end on January 26, and an Emergency which started on Tuesday this week.

While students sitting for examination are allowed to physically attend classes, their academic calendar has now been disrupted by the MCO periods last year.

Earlier this week, the National Union of the Teaching Profession president Aminuddin Awang said that SPM examination should proceed as scheduled in February to maintain its status as the examination is equivalent to the General Certificate of Secondary Education (GSCE) in the United Kingdom.

Malay Mail is seeking a response from Education Minister Mohd Radzi Md Jidin.

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