Press Digest - Education Ministry mulls combined classed for SJKCs with fewer than 30 pupils

TO make better use of teaching staff and save costs, the Education Ministry is considering re-introducing combined classes for severely under-enrolled national-type Chinese primary schools (SJKCs).

Deputy Education Minister Datuk Chong Sin Woon told Sin Chew Daily in a report published yesterday that under the scheme, SJKCs with fewer than 30 pupils will have to put pupils from two different standards in one class.

But unlike before when combined classes involved grouping Standards 1 and 2, Standards 3 and 4, and Standard 5 and 6, the new combinations will put together Years 2 and 3, and Years 4 and 5, leaving Year 1 and Year 6 untouched.

He explained that Year 1 pupils, being "freshies", and Year 6 pupils, who have to prepare for the UPSR (Ujian Pencapaian Sekolah Rendah) examination, need special attention from their teachers.

He said the ministry will provide teachers with training to ensure they are able to handle pupils from two classes simultaneously.

He said parents need not worry as pupils in a combined class, due to its small size, would in fact receive more attention than their peers in much larger classes in a normal school.

The ministry will only re-introduce combined classes in schools with fewer than 30 pupils, he said, adding that each such class may only have seven to eight pupils and teachers will definitely be able to cope.

He said parents can rest assured that the welfare and interests of pupils will not be compromised under the scheme.

He added the move will not in any way jeopardise the existence of under-enrolled SJKCs.

"Don't worry, no (SJKCs) school is going to be closed," he said.

Any spare teachers as a result of combining classes will be posted to schools where they are needed, he added.