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Wednesday, September 30, 2020

Ordered to stay put on campus


PETALING JAYA: As a precautionary measure against the spread of Covid-19, matriculation students must stay put for now.

An Education Ministry (MOE) official has confirmed that they are not allowed to leave campus grounds for the time being.

The official said the ruling was in accordance with the guidelines issued by the authorities.

“Outings and weekend visits to family members are currently under review by the MOE, Health Ministry and National Security Council (MKN).“As for the semester break scheduled from Oct 12 to Oct 18, MOE is still awaiting approval from the council. Students will be updated on the latest developments from time to time,” said the official.

According to a concerned parent who alerted The Star, MOE was supposed to allow students to return home over the long National Day weekend after a month of quarantine on campus.

“However, the students were informed later that they were not allowed to leave campus grounds for any sort of outings and visits a few days prior to the weekend,” said the parent, who declined to be named.

He claimed that to date, matriculation students have not received any updates from the ministry on when they would be allowed to travel back home.

“Students are not updated on this while parents are not allowed to meet them,” he said.

He added that other parents who contacted the matriculation colleges were informed that retaining students on campus was the ministry’s decision.

“I contacted the MOE and was told that they were bound by the decision of the Health Ministry and MKN. But when I called up the two regulatory bodies, they said it was up to the MOE to set the guidelines.

“It has been nearly a month since I called the MOE and there are still no updates yet,” he added.

The parent believed that the students were facing mental health issues, in addition to problems with poor and limited Wi-Fi connectivity.

He also claimed that peers in public varsities’ foundation centres were allowed to spend the night at home regularly as these students fall under the Higher Education Ministry’s purview.A matriculation student, who wished to remain anonymous, said he had already witnessed his peers having mental breakdowns due to the huge pressure from covering a wide matriculation syllabus, paired with the stress of being confined to campus grounds.

“It is most unfair that lecturers, staff and canteen workers are travelling in and out of campus but we have to stay put.

“It doesn’t make any sense that there is no travel restriction for college students undergoing foundation programmes in public universities and diploma students in polytechnics,” said the student.

Worried that they would not be allowed to go home until the recovery movement control order (MCO) ends on Dec 31, he said this would mean having to spend mid-semester break, Deepavali, Christmas and study week on campus.

Another student from a separate campus, who was away from her family for the first time, said she was having difficulties coping with the stress from studies, as well as being cooped up in campus. She also shared about another matriculation student who was not allowed to visit her sick mother, who has since died.

A third student said it was unfair for matriculation students to be treated differently from those in the polytechnics.

Parent Action Group for Education Malaysia chairman Datin Noor Azimah Abdul Rahim said the MOE should not be overly concerned as matriculation students were older and more mature compared to secondary students.

“As long as the standard operating procedures are strictly followed, they should be allowed to go home as mental issues and online fatigue may develop if left unchecked.

“A home environment and supportive parents and siblings can have a positive impact on students’ mental health and eliminate any online fatigue,” she said.

Another parent also urged the MOE to allow the matriculation students to return home to fulfil their religious obligations, stock up on basic necessities and take a break from the campus environment.

When contacted, Education director-general Datuk Dr Habibah Abdul Rahim said: “Wait for Thursday.” -  Star

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