PETALING JAYA, Feb 5: Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching has urged the education ministry to ensure that teachers are among the priority groups for the Covid-19 immunisation plan.
Teo, who is also a former deputy education minister, said that since the reopening of schools in January, there had been several reported incidents of teachers found positive for Covid-19.
“This raises many safety questions. Parents need to be assured that appropriate measures are taken to protect their children before they are allowed to go back to school,” she said in a statement today.
“Vaccinating teachers becomes a priority and is seen as a critical step towards creating an environment that is safe for children and provides stability in the education ecosystem.
“Teachers must be prioritised so they remain safe. They are a precious resource as well and let us not forget their value in times like these.”
Teo said Unicef had called for teachers to be prioritised to receive the Covid-19 vaccine, once frontline health personnel and high-risk populations were vaccinated.
This would help protect them from the virus, allow them to teach in person, and ultimately keep schools open and allow parents and the larger segment of society to gradually return to a semblance of normalcy.
She said the British and Northern Irish education ministers had advocated for teachers to be prioritised for vaccines.
“But in Malaysia, the education minister is still finding his voice to speak up for teachers. I urge the minister to show some leadership, and the government to embark on an effective recovery journey,” she said.
Teo also said while school closure for non-exam students was inevitable, it had far-reaching ramifications.
The impact would be felt not just through lost learning hours, but also the lack of institutional protection that schools offer, such as the food programme for many children from the B40 segment, support for Orang Asli children, and the “stability” that schooling offered for children and parents.
However, after implementing home-based learning for nearly a year, she said, it was still below par.
“Until today, three critical issues that would determine the quality of home-based learning, – access to gadgets or suitable devices, internet connectivity and bandwidth, and adequate content for education TV – remain largely unaddressed and severely lacking,” she said.