NUTP: Teachers prepared to switch to online teaching if necessary, if Covid-19 cases continue to rise

As the number of Covid-19 cases continues to rise in Malaysia, the National Union of the Teaching Profession says teachers are prepared to switch to online teaching if necessary when schools re-open in January next year.

Its secretary-general, Fouzi Singon, said although the Education Ministry has not issued any directives on the matter, there have been talks going around.

“What’s important, is that there be no panic, and no one should press the panic button,” he said.

The school holidays will begin tomorrow, and schools will resume on Jan 2. The Health Ministry has said it foresees the number of Covid-19 cases rising with the school, and year-end holidays, as well as the festive season. On Wednesday, the ministry said the number of cases from Dec 3-9 stood at 12,757, compared to the week before, at 6,796.

Twentytwo13 has learnt that some teachers in schools in Kuala Lumpur, in recent days, had asked their students if they had digital devices at home that are compatible with online learning.

Fouzi said teachers could be checking to see how many students had compatible devices, in the event they needed to switch to online learning.

“But it could also be part of a routine check, as we move towards the digitalisation of education,” he said.

“If 100 per cent of students in a class have digital devices, then it will be easier for teachers to carry out their duties.

“My only concern is if the teachers themselves are prepared, but there are students who are not ready to switch to online learning due to certain limitations, especially those from the lower income families who cannot afford online learning devices,” said Fouzi, whose union represents some 230,000 teachers in Peninsular Malaysia.

He said one way of overcoming any potential hiccups and to ensure everyone was on the same page, was learning via television.

“What is certain is that everyone has a television at home and can tune in to TV Pendidikan. Everyone can access the channel. It boils down to how the ministry will streamline the teaching programmes on TV, to be the same as the lessons conducted by school teachers.

“Other online devices at home will be the platform for teachers to communicate with students on the programmes they need to watch, or as a platform for students to pose questions to teachers,” he said.

He said using applications like ‘Zoom’ for teaching at the height of the pandemic in 2020 and 2021, has taught teachers that while the application is on, students were ‘sleeping’, with their cameras turned off.

“We do not want these things to be happening. There will also be parents who will be able to assist their children in learning, but there are those who cannot, and will be left behind,” he said.

“There is still time and the Education Ministry should stand by with a plan to ensure stakeholders know what to do in the event of schools being directed to close.

“The ministry should structure the learning plan and launch it now, so that stakeholders will know how best to overcome any possible problems.”

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