KUALA LUMPUR: Continued closing of schools in the fight against Covid-19 is not an option anymore, Education Minister Datuk Radzi Jidin (pix) told the Dewan Rakyat today.

Radzi said the firm decision to reopen schools in stages was taken due to the apparent widening education gap since March last year.

“Our children will be increasingly estranged from the school system if they stay away for a long period of time. The easiest way for us (ministry) is to close schools until next year; however, it is the government’s responsibility to take into account what is the best approach to enable us to provide space for our children,“ he said.

The reopening of schools (based on phases under the National Recovery Plan in each state) nationwide is scheduled for Oct 3.

He was responding to a question by Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman (Ind-Muar) who wished to know if the ministry has a plan to “turbo charge” education to close the gap for students who have been left behind.

Syed Saddiq also raised a concern over the long term impact to these students as according to a Unesco report, the school closure in the country recorded around 60 weeks which is triple compared to the school closure globally which was around 20 weeks.

He also said that even before Covid-19, students here were already three years behind when compared to our neighbour, Singapore.

Additionally, he said, when Covid-19 hit, only a handful of students were able to do the home-based teaching and learning (PdPR) due to the rural-urban digital divide and the lack of gadgets.

Radzi then thanked the Muar MP for understanding the challenges faced by the ministry and said the ministry will do its best to find suitable time to reopen all schools in a safe manner.

More to follow