Sin Chew Daily
Despite having bidden 2020 adieu and ushered in the new year of 2021, many of our existing challenges still stubbornly stick with us. The coronavirus outbreak is still ravaging and our economy remains anemic.
On the last day of 2020, we registered the highest ever daily new infection number, showing that the outbreak remains serious and there is little hope we can put the whole thing behind us any time soon.
Even as there's been no sign the pandemic is abating in this country, schools will still reopen on January 20, much to the concern of parents.
The education ministry recently announced that all educational institutions, private colleges and international schools registered with the ministry, including those in areas under the CMCO, will reopen as per the 2021 timetable.
It is a tough decision to make whether to allow students to go back to school in the midst of the ravaging pandemic. While those supporting school reopening have their reasons for doing so, the opponents are not being wholly unreasonable.
Since the onset of the viral outbreak in this country, much of our day-to-day lives have been disrupted. Not only is the national economy badly battered, but students' learning progress has also been adversely affected. Because of the coronavirus, students' learning space has to be shifted from offline classrooms to the cyberspace, as they have much fewer opportunities to learn from their teachers face-to-face and spend much less time at school.
Although teachers still discharge their educational duties conscientiously in delivering the lessons in the cyberspace, there is no denial that online learning can never be an effective alternative to nor a complete replacement of classroom teaching.
Inadequate equipment and sluggish internet speed aside, online learning will never be as effective as learning from the teacher face-to-face.
As such, even as we keep encouraging students to go for online learning during the pandemic, this is at best an expedient solution. Our students are already lagging behind in their learning progress, it will be hard for them to play the catching up if they are still not allowed to go back to school.
Meanwhile, many parents are worried about increased risk of infection if their kids are back to school again. These parents' worries are not totally baseless.
The government has just announced to extend the nationwide RMCO by another three months to March 31, and this speaks volumes of the fact that the virus is nowhere near being contained, with daily new infection numbers still very much in the thousands.
All parents are concerned about the academic progress of their children, and they are not opposing to school reopening just for the sake of opposing but the spread of the virus.
The government, in particular the education ministry, must ensure that SOPs are strictly adhered to at all schools for the sake of the students' safety so that parents can have peace of mind sending their kids back to school.
Additionally, the authorities must also be resolved to come up with effective measures to curb the spread of the virus. Although the government has extended the RMCO for another three months, the whole situation has not improved despite the RMCO having been imposed for so many months now.
We cannot afford to do nothing and just wait for the vaccines to arrive. We must take a more proactive stance to fight and defeat the virus. This is the attitude our government must have in this war.