THE EDITOR: The Minister of Education recently announced that phase 2 of physical reopening of school should be within the next few weeks. This phase will include the forms 1, 2 and 3 vaccinated students. She indicated that this will assist in relieving the burden on teachers who have to teach physical and online.
My question is how? She obviously is not being advised by people on the ground. I am a teacher who has to teach both physical and online. So let me enlighten the public a bit.
We have timetabled Forms 4, 5 and 6 students who are vaccinated for physical classes. While these few students are at school physically, the majority of their peers are at home since they are unvaccinated. So teachers at school might be teaching one, two, three, perhaps eight students if they are lucky while the majority of the class is at home not being taught.
Yes, some teachers may leave work online to keep these students occupied. However, no teaching is taking place as teachers are being asked to conduct a physical class. Yes, we agree, it is totally unfair to these students.
In addition, there is now a much greater learning loss among those students. The unvaccinated are getting no work in some cases. Some teachers at school are willing to stream their classes online for the unvaccinated. However, most schools, except for the so-called prestige ones, do not have the facilities to make this possible. Schools do not have proper connectivity in the classrooms to allow for this.
No teacher should have to feel guilty or bear the burden of unvaccinated students not being taught. It hurts us as teachers to see this great inequality and injustice in education being promoted by the ministry. The ministry did not plan the reopening in a timely manner.
If less than half of the student population is vaccinated, then classes should have continued online for the rest of this term. This way, it is guaranteed that a much greater percentage of the students would be taught as opposed to the very low numbers at physical school presently.
Yet the minister now wants to bring out forms 1, 2 and 3. Again, what a bigger learning loss. Why are the unvaccinated students being punished? Teachers will report to work as expected. However, they will be teaching very few students while the majority are at home losing out on their right to education.
Madame Minister, you need to visit the “ordinary” schools and see what's happening for yourself. Do not depend on supervisors' reports which might be inaccurate because they are all trying to look good. Students are losing out much more during this reopening compared to the last two terms.
Please seek some advice from principals who have been struggling to make this reopening work. It's distressing to see how many students are losing out – and it’s no fault of the teachers. Please let good sense prevail and let the students receive some learning online.
We want to be like the rest of the world and get our students back to physical school, yes, but at whose expense? The majority of our forms 4, 5 and 6 students are losing out at present. If we really want to reduce learning loss, you need to revisit your reopening plan, Madame Minister. You can start by using the same system from the last two terms and gradually expand.
Please do not bring the students out for all subjects. That’s too much of a loss and a waste of resources.