KUALA LUMPUR: THE new school term for next year, scheduled to begin on Jan 20, will allow teachers to get a good rest before they resume their duties.
Parent Action Group for Education (PAGE) president Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said such change was inevitable following the Covid-19 pandemic.
"We agree that the new academic year cannot begin as before as we cautiously approach the new normal.
"While there is much to catch up, teachers need to be well rested too to start afresh," she said yesterday.
Azimah said there was still the possibility of another wave if standard operating procedures were not adhered to strictly.
On whether the change in timeline would impact other areas in the new school academic session, Azimah said based on the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2013-2025, teachers spent between 2.4 to 2.9 hours a day on average teaching in the classroom.
"We believe there will be little change. If other areas can be shortened in the process, teaching in the classroom, with all things being equal, should not be affected."
On Monday, Senior Education Minister Dr Mohd Radzi Jidin told the Dewan Rakyat that the new school term for next year would start on Jan 20 to make up for the 2020 year-end school break that would be cut short and the delay in the year-end examinations due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Radzi said the ministry's decision to reduce the school holidays was inevitable as online learning, although it helped students a lot, was not as effective as face-to-face learning.
National Union of the Teaching Profession secretary-general Harry Tan said the union had no issue with the new school term.
"It will give teachers a much-needed break after the long, gruelling year.
"While Malaysia was under the MCO, the teachers were hard at work, coaching students online, giving them work and correcting their assignments."
When schools started, he said, there were longer school days and teachers had to teach more classes since the classes were split up due to the physical distancing requirement.
"They (the teachers) will have to work till the end of the year."
Meanwhile, a concerned reader contacted the New Straits Times, questioning the ministry's move to start the new school term on the same day that Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia (SPM) candidates were scheduled to sit their Physics and Science papers.
Since Science was a compulsory subject, except for those taking Pure Science subjects, namely Physics, Chemistry and Biology, the reader was worried about the presence of a huge number of students in schools at that time.
"There are concerns that many students will be at school on the first day of the new school term next year."
The reader also expressed concern involving teachers who are invigilators, examiners and those teaching Form 5 next year.
"What will happen to the batch sitting SPM at the end of 2021 when some of their teachers are busy with SPM, be it as invigilators or examiners?"
When asked to comment on the matter, Azimah said most teachers would be ready to begin the new and delayed academic year since SPM would be reaching its tail end (when schools reopen) and only a handful would still be invigilating.
"To minimise impact, arrangements can be made to involve non-core subject teachers as invigilators. We believe the Education Ministry will have considered this."
Tan said: "Problems can be resolved with engagements and this is what NUTP hopes to do with the Education Ministry."
Source: New Straits Times https://bit.ly/3illMen