Maszlee Malik moots education task force to ensure holistic approach amid pandemic

Maszlee Malik speaks to reporters at a press conference during the launch of the movement, in Cyberjaya November 11, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon
Maszlee Malik speaks to reporters at a press conference during the launch of the movement, in Cyberjaya November 11, 2020. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 22 — Former education minister Maszlee Malik today urged the government to establish a National Education Task Force to ensure a more holistic approach to education in Malaysia. 

The Simpang Renggam MP said that the task force should not only include those from the Education Ministry, but also include representatives from the National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP), Parent-Teacher Association (PIBG), other related ministries and Opposition groups. 

“It’s still not too late to do something about our education system. We don’t know what will happen in the future like another movement control order (MCO) or the closure of schools again. 

“So, on behalf of Pakatan Harapan, we would like to encourage the education ministry to establish a National Education Task Force involving all parties relating to education to sit down and update and hash out the education system to a more holistic and encompassing approach,” Maszlee said during a talk with Opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim live on Facebook. 

Maszlee said education must be taken seriously during these times, and that the government should treat education with the same level of importance as the economy and health. 

“We talk about health and economic issues during Covid-19 - that’s all important. But education should be as important as it is about the future of Malaysia. 

“But it is unfortunate that education in these hard times is being taken lightly as compared to health and economy,” he said. 

Maszlee said most policies set by the current Education Ministry seem backwards and that blanket decisions being made do not help ensure the best education standard is delivered. 

“During unprecedented times like these, policy making should be made from the bottom up to ensure blanket decisions that aren't fair to everyone are not made. For example, Orang Asli villages who are in the green zone cannot go to school even though their school is right in front of the longhouse, and they cannot learn because they have no devices,” he said.

He added that education should not only fall under the education ministry’s purview, but include other agencies and related ministries to ensure fair education for everyone. 

“For example, internet reach for students learning from home or those in rural and remote areas. That should be under the purview of the Rural Development Ministry (KPLB), but as we can see, they have not taken responsibility for anything since the whole issue came about until very recently. 

“Internet access falls under the Ministry of Multimedia and Communication, disabled children fall under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, and yet we saw no initiatives from these ministries to assist with problems faced by the Education Ministry,” he said. 

On February 19, Education Minister Datuk Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced that classes for pre-school, Standards 1 and 2 will start on March 1, while sessions for Standards 3 to 6 will commence on March 8.

For secondary students, those in the Group A states of Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu will start school on April 4, while secondary students in Group B states will attend school from April 5, which is after the Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) 2020 examination.

He said the decision to allow primary pupils to start school earlier was to allow both them and their teachers the chance to adapt to the new normal as well as Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

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