‘More needs to be done to facilitate home learning’

21 Jan 2021 / 11:27 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Educators want the government to bolster home learning efforts to ensure that the academic performance of students does not deteriorate.

They singled out factors such as lack of IT skills of teachers and falling attendance rates of students as cause for concern.

The school session for the year began yesterday, but apart from students sitting for public examinations, teaching and learning will be conducted online.

In a statement issued on Jan 16, the Education Ministry said online learning was recommended by the Health Ministry in view of the surge in new Covid-19 infections.

Stakeholders, such as parents and educators, have expressed concern about the readiness of teachers and students to embrace the new teaching mode.

Their concerns are valid as a recent study by the education faculty of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) revealed that 70% to 80% of teachers said it was difficult to get students to pay attention. Other complaints include lack of suitable devices to conduct home learning, weaknesses in infrastructure and poor internet access.

Results of the study indicate that attendance has dropped below 80%, and many students have difficulty focusing on lessons because of unfavourable conditions at home.

The study revealed that 50% to 60% of teachers are not comfortable conducting classes online and a similar percentage of them do it only for an hour or two per day. Furthermore, only 50% to 60% of teachers have the necessary IT skills to make online learning work for their students, Bernama reported.

Assoc professor Dr Azlin Norhaini Mansor, who led the UKM study, said online teaching is less effective as it does not correspond with the competency and learning levels of students.

There is limited communication between students and teachers. Some teachers give their students too much homework, making it difficult for parents who rely on their children to help manage household chores, Azlin Norhaini said.

However, assoc professor Datuk Dr Mohamad Ali Hasan, who is president of the National Parent-Teacher Associations Consultative Council, pointed out that under prevailing circumstances, home learning is the best approach.

He said issues such as access to broadband internet, especially in rural and remote areas, should be quickly addressed.

“What students really need are comprehensive and tested e-guidebooks. Effective evaluation (of students) is also required. These are the constraints that must be addressed systematically.”

Mohamad Ali also proposed the setting up of home learning referral centres in every district and state education office to act as one-stop centres to deal with any issues related to online classes.

“A special officer should also be appointed to coordinate and plan home learning strategies.”

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