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Prioritise teachers for Covid-19 vaccination too!

Press Statement
5th February 2021

Ministry of Education should ensure that teachers are among the priority groups included in the Covid-19 immunisation plan

Schools have been closed since March last year. While school closure is inevitable, it also has far-reaching ramifications. Its impact will be felt not just through lost learning hours, but also through the lack of institutional protection that schools offer such as food programs for many children from the B40 segment of society (Rancangan Makanan Tambahan), various other forms of educational support for Orang Asli children as well as the aid offered to families as a routine that provides children and parents a form of stability.

After implementing home-based learning for nearly a year, our preparation and readiness for it is still below par. Until today, 3 critical issues that would determine the quality of home-based learning, being access to gadgets or suitable devices, internet connectivity and bandwidth, as well as adequate content for Education TV remain largely unaddressed and severely lacking.

Therefore, the reopening of schools should be one of our top priorities. However, since schools reopened this year in January, there have been several incidents where teachers were found positive with Covid-19. This raises many safety questions. Parents need to be assured that appropriate measures are taken to protect their children before children are allowed to go back to school.

Therefore, vaccinating teachers becomes a priority and is seen as a critical step towards creating an environment that is safe for the children and provides stability in the education ecosystem. Last December, UNICEF was already calling for teachers to be prioritized to receive the COVID-19 vaccine once frontliners, health personnel and high-risk groups are vaccinated. This will no doubt help protect teachers from the virus, allow them to teach in person, and ultimately keep schools open which in turn will allow parents and the larger segment of society to gradually return to a semblance of normalcy.

Currently, Britain’s Education Minister Gavin Williamson is advocating for teachers to be prioritised for vaccination. In Northern Ireland, upon the request of Education Minister Peter Weir, those working in special schools will be prioritised for vaccination against Covid-19. But in Malaysia, the Minister of Education is still finding his voice to speak up for teachers. I urge the Education Minister to show some leadership and urge the government to embark on an effective recovery journey.

Teachers must be prioritised so they remain safe. Teachers are the country’s precious resource as well and so, let us not forget their value in times like this.

Teo Nie Ching
MP for Kulai

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