Former deputy minister lists 3 failures in reopening schools amid pandemic

Former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching said it was not known how many teachers and students have tested positive for Covid-19 and how many schools have been closed. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Former deputy education minister Teo Nie Ching has taken the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government to task over three failures in the reopening of schools nationwide amid a spate of Covid-19 cases.

In a statement, she said there was a lack of crucial information on Covid-19 outbreaks in schools, claiming that at least 186 schools had seen infections since reopening.

She urged the education ministry to provide a daily update on the Covid-19 situation in schools, saying parents and teachers should be able to access such information.

“We do not know how many teachers and students have tested positive for Covid-19. We also do not know how many schools and classes have been closed.

Teo Nie Ching.

“If certain schools are not closed, why is it safe for them to remain open? What are the precautionary steps taken by the government? What are the sanitisation and restoration efforts taken to resume operations?”

The Kulai MP also slammed the government for failing to fulfil its promise to loan some 150,000 laptops to students in need, although it was said that the first batch of pupils would receive the devices in February.

Noting that it was already April now, she said this failure was “tragic”, adding that the government had kept silent about the laptops despite being queried on the matter repeatedly.

Teo said the third shortcoming was that the education ministry had not mobilised additional temporary teachers despite several schools facing a shortage of manpower.

Under the 2021 budget, the DAP MP said PN had introduced MySTEP, a short-term employment project under which government-linked companies would provide 15,000 contract jobs such as temporary teachers, nurses andsocial welfare officers.

“With the passing of the first quarter of 2021, we have not been informed of the additional temporary teachers our education system needs. Where are the additional temporary teachers promised by the finance ministry?

“Teachers form part of the nation’s forefront in assisting the nation to recuperate from the effects of this pandemic. And yet, we see a lackadaisical attitude and response.”