COVID-19 Op-ed

The effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on one’s enjoyment of the right to education

Written by admin

Dr. Mariam OthmanDeputy
Director (R & D)
Jalan Sultan Azlan Shah11700
Gelugor, Penang, Malaysia

Malaysia first bout with Covid-19  happened on 25 January
2020, when three Chinese tourists entering Johor Bahru from Singapore on
January 23 were detected with the virus (New Sarawak Tribune, March 17,
2020).When the World Health Organization (WHO) declared Covid-19 a pandemic
on 11 March 2020, the Malaysian government announced Movement Control Order
(MCO) on 18  – 31 March 2020.  This means no gatherings including
closing of schools with the exception of essential services such as food,
health, security, telecommunications, finance, petrol stations, and
transport.  However, the MCO has eventually been extended to
14th April 2020, due to rising of positive cases to
1,796 and 19 deaths on 25th March 2020. (National
CPRC, MOH, 2020)Initially, schools in Malaysia were closed for a week from 14
to 22 March 2020.  However, in compliance with MCO, closure of schools
were initially extended to 31st March 2020 and later
to 14th April 2020 following the second phase of
MCO.  Nevertheless, The Ministry of Education (MOE) had made an early
decision to postpone all schools and extra-curricular activities in March
2020 (MOE Malaysia, 2020a).The Covid-19 pandemic
affected school pupils in many ways especially on classroom teaching and
learning. No one nor system came prepared for this health crisis and its
effects on the educational system. Although, online education are available
and made accessible to many students, it is still compulsory for pupils to
attend schools especially primary schools. Students and parents still have to
learn the ropes of “studying from home” through online
technology.Nevertheless, MOE developed and promoted e-learning platforms for
teachers and pupils so that teaching and learning could continue.
  Some of the e-learning platforms websites provided by MOE include,
(MOE Malaysia, 2020b).All these measures are supposed
to support teachers and to ensure that no pupil left behind.The Covid-19 also
affected the postponement of public examinations this year especially for
pupils taking examinations as a criteria to further studies or basis of job
qualification, such as Malaysian Education Certificate (SPM) for Form Five
and Malaysian Higher School Certificate (STPM) for Form Six pupils. MOE has
taken early precautions in by postponing the 2020 public examination calendar
from October to November for SPM. Meanwhile, STPM will be postponed from May
to December 2020 to November to March 2021 (MOE,
2020d).The Director General of Ministry of Health
Malaysia advised that no mass gatherings after the second phase of MCO will
take place (Malay Mail, 2020).  Thus, the rescheduling of the pertinent
examinations is on the right track provided the MCO will not be
extended.  However, MOE should think of other strategies in case this
national policy continues on.One suggested strategy is to develop an
alternative assessment tool in lieu of SPM and STPM. Technology should be
maximised at this point and make it more accessible to test takers.Malaysia
is well-prepared in terms of providing quality education needs to its
citizens during this health crisis.  However, there is still room for
improvements and the public could contribute constructive ideas as requested
by MOE through their official Facebook and cooperate with the government
during this dire needs.  In addition, the government through smart
partnership with Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs), humanitarian agencies
and related embassies should further plan and develop strategies to cater
marginalized children such as out of school children including

  1. “Chronology of COVID-19 in Malaysia”. New Sarawak Tribune (2020)
    cited from Bernama 17 March 2020. Retrieved from
    on 7 April 2020.
  2. National CPRC, Ministry Of Health
    Malaysia (2020). “Jumlah Kes dan Kematian Terkini Covid-19 Malaysia pada 25
    Mac 2020”. Retrieved from National CPRC, Ministry Of Health Malaysia on 30
    March 2020.
  3. MOE Malaysia
    (2020a). “Kenyataan Media: Penangguhan Program Sukan
    Dan Aktiviti Kokurikulum Berikutan Penularan Jangkitan Novel Coronavirus
    (Covid-19)”. Retrieved from
    on 7 April 2020.
  4. MOE Malaysia
    (2020b). “Kenyataan Media: Pelaksanaan Pengajaran Dan
    Pembelajaran Berikutan Perlanjutan Tempoh Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan”.
    Retrieved from
    on 7 April 2020.
  5. MOE Malaysia
    RTM” Retrieved from
    on 7 April 2020.
  6. “Interactive learning”. The Star
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    on 7 April 2020.
  7. MOE Malaysia
    (2020d). “Kenyataan Media: Penjadualan Semula
    Peperiksaan Bawah Kendalian Kpm Berikutan Perintah Kawalan Pergerakan
    Disebabkan Penularan Jangkitan Covid-19”. Retrieved from
    on 7 April 2020.
  8. “Get used to no mass gatherings in
    next six months, Health D-G tells Malaysians”. Retrieved from
    on 7 April 2020.


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