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SWWS Calls for More Fundamental National Educational Reforms

Sarawak Women for Women Society, Press Release - 17 May 2022

SWWS welcomes the announcement by the Ministry of Education that educational reforms in the pipeline will address inefficiency so “every teacher can spend their time educating or teaching optimally” (Datuk Dr Radzi Jidin, Teacher’s Day 2022 Celebration).

The need for teachers to have more time to individually meet the learning needs of their pupils has never been more needed. The impact of Covid-19 has meant a huge learning loss for our children with Malaysia’s loss being estimated to be the highest in the region, after Myanmar, by the Asia Development Bank.  

“As an organization concerned for children’s well-being and having many mothers and teachers as members, we want to see concerted action by all parties, led by the Ministry of Education, to reach every child whose learning has been adversely affected by the pandemic,’ said SWWS’s President Dr Angie Garet. “While the latest statement is a step in the right direction, so much more needs to be done to ensure no child is left behind and every child is given the help needed to restore confidence and ability after such a prolonged disruption to their education and social interactions.”

Several individuals active in NGOs supporting children have recently published a report entitled “Our Children’s Learning Loss: A Path to Post-Covid-19 School Recovery in Malaysia.” outlining various strategies to address the current challenges.  SWWS is one of the contributors to this report available on the NECIC website.

In Sarawak, given our terrain, we will have many children who were unable to follow classes online or reach their schools to collect work set by teachers.  Even those who did have access have found it difficult to concentrate during on-line classes.  It is essential we assess the needs of every pupil and every school so the necessary resources can be put in place so teachers are supported as they help each child recover.

This is especially true for children in the first three years of primary whose grasp of the 3Rs (reading, writing, arithmetic) has been affected and children transitioning to secondary. There is a real fear some may drop out given poverty and the fear they cannot cope.  Teens feeling of failure and dropping out of school is bad for everyone.  It puts them at risk of more poverty and early parenthood and works against the State’s and country’s need for a skilled workforce to increase economic development.

Now is the time to act and the report sets out key strategies to reduce learning loss. SWWS urges the Sarawak State authorities to discuss with the National MOE so that the situation here, including our children with disabilities and those without documentation, are addressed swiftly.  We owe it to our children not to delay and to take bold, decisive reform.