Maszlee Malik speaks to reporters at a press conference during the movement’s launch in Cyberjaya on Nov. 11, 2020 – Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

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KUALA LUMPUR, Feb. 22 – Former Education Minister Maszlee Malik today called on the government to set up a national task force on education to ensure a more holistic approach to education in Malaysia.

Simpang Renggam MP said the task force should include not only those from the Ministry of Education but also representatives from the National Union of Teaching Professions (NUTP), Parent Teachers Association (PIBG), other related ministries and opposition groups.

“It’s not too late to do something about our education system. We don’t know what will happen in the future like another Movement Control Ordinance (MCO) or school closings.

“Therefore, on behalf of Pakatan Harapan, we would like to encourage the Ministry of Education to set up a national task force on education involving all educational parties in order to come together and bring the education system to a more holistic and comprehensive approach.” Maszlee said Anwar Ibrahim live on Facebook during a conversation with opposition leader Datuk Seri.

Maszlee said that education must be taken seriously in these times and that the government should treat education as equality with business and health.

“We talk about health and economic problems during Covid-19 – that’s all important. However, education should be just as important as Malaysia’s future.

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

Maszlee said that most of the guidelines set by the current Department of Education seem backward and that blanket decisions do not help ensure the best standard of education.

“In unprecedented times like this, policymaking should be bottom-up to ensure that there are no blanket decisions that don’t do everyone justice. For example, Orang Asli villages that are in the green zone cannot go to school even though their school is right in front of the longhouse and they cannot study because they have no equipment, ”he said.

He added that education should not only be the purview of the Ministry of Education, but should also involve other agencies and related ministries to ensure fair education for all.

“For example, internet coverage for students studying from home or in rural and remote areas. This should be under the purview of the Ministry of Rural Development (KPLB) but as we can see they haven’t taken responsibility for anything since the whole problem first started until recently.

“Internet access is under the Ministry of Multimedia and Communications, disabled children are under the Ministry of Women’s, Family and Community Development, and yet we have not seen any initiatives from these ministries to help with problems with the Ministry of Education,” he said.

On February 19, Education Minister Datuk Mohd Radzi Md Jidin announced that preschool classes for Standards 1 and 2 will begin on March 1, while sessions for Standards 3 through 6 will begin on March 8.

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

He said the decision to allow elementary school students to start school earlier is to allow both them and their teachers to adapt to the new normal and Covid-19 standard operating procedures.

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