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Thursday, July 05, 2018

Children Deprived Of Computer Lessons With Blanket Ban On Computer Classes

One of the current hot topics being discussed in our FB group, The Malaysia Primary School Parents On Facebook group is the topic on the ban of computer classes during school hours.

There are many discussion threads on this issue with parents giving their opinion on whether and why computer classes should be banned or otherwise during school hours. In a mini poll we conducted,  244 parents said they preferred status quo as before where computer classes was carried out during schooling hours with payment of fee. 79 parents voted for cancellation of computer classes during school hours. Computer classes should be after school activity with payment of fee.

Computer Classes In SJKC Before The Ban

Most SJKC have a fully equipped computer lab. Before the ban, computer classes were part of the school time-table. Payment of fee was required to attend these classes which are outsourced because they are not part of the national syllabus. The fee varied from school to school with some charging from RM10 per month for a once in a week class. Payment of this fee was mostly compulsory in some of the schools.

What Do The Children Learn At Computer Class?

Here's what some parents shared.

P1: hardware, word, powerpoint, excel, and intro to coding using scratch.
P2: same as the above, more in depth and more emphasis on coding.

I was just looking at the computer book that my boy's school uses. For P5, the contents are:
My First Webpage
Understanding Webpage Editor
I am the Webmaster
Linking Webpages
Uploading webpages
Convenient Cloud Applications

In recent years, there has been a shift to a more student centric learning with students encouraged to work together in teams for projects. These skills are useful in their project presentations. Coding is of course a useful skill to learn in the digital world we now live in.

Why The Call For A Ban

The above circumstance was not ideal because it had created a situation where the collection of the fees was not transparent. Since it was not part of the school syllabus, those who did not wish to attend the classes felt it should not be compulsory.

As a result there was a call for the ban of computer classes during school hours and after an audit on alleged illegal computer classes in vernacular Chinese schools, eventually the MOE ordered a blanket ban on all SJKCs to cease computer classes during school hours.

Is A Blanket Ban The Solution?

Let's have a look at what happened immediately after the ban.

Since computer classes are not allowed during schooling hours. At a glance, the solution seems simple. Conduct computer lessons after schooling hours as a cu-curriculum activity. Simple right? Wrong.

Let's have a look at a hypothetical case of a Chinese school with 6 classes for each standard (Many Chinese schools have more than this, some up to 10 or more). Let's say each of these classes have 40 students. In this cases 6 classes x 6 standards x 40 students per class = 1440 students. Let's say the school has a computer lab with 50 computers. It is not a problem to schedule those 1440 students at different times according to the school timetable but the headache begins when you try to schedule 1440 students into one computer lab for one extra cu-curricular session. You will need to schedule many sessions. 

To add to this problem, try fitting these extra sessions into an already packed schedule of many other types of curricular activities being offered by SJKC. Add siblings who have to go home at different times into the picture and you have a bigger headache.

At the end of the day, what some schools have done is to scrap computer lessons all together or stop those for lower primary while leaving the upper primary students to fight for a place in the computer lab.

Some schools scheduled the classes on a Saturday. Would you send your kids to school on a Saturday just to attend an hour of class?

As a result many kids became deprived of computer classes instantly. When enrollment drops, price increases so the affordable computer classes is no longer affordable.

This is the scenario which we are faced with now.

Let's See What Parents Had To Say 

We left out names to protect the privacy of the parents.

There is zero lab space and time available for P1, P2 and P3 after class. They only have enough for P4, 5 & 6. So to those people who didn't want Computer classes and claim can have it after school, NO they can't. Get facts right before suggesting it. 

We already have a set schedule and now, if we want to join computer classes, we need to drop another activity. Should have just maintained.

My daughter is so sad that computer class replaced with chess instead. since lab space is not enough.

My son's school abolished computer class outright. So the class dismisses an hour earlier

Squeezing 2 classes into 1 lab. 100 kids sharing 50 computers. Affecting additional pickup time for parents for kids not joining, they dismiss school early.

The cost to learn computers has gone up both in monetary terms and intangible time used.

My cihld's school has stopped computer lessons for p1 to p3, p4 to p6 attend comp class after school.

Both my kids and myself are totally disappointed that the computer class has to be cancelled. The school charges RM 10 per month for a weekly one-hour lesson. The kids really look forward to computer class every week. They get to learn how to use microsoft office and other things, and of course some free time for games once the work is done. 

Even though the computer class is in the time table, but i don't think it affects any of the other subject lesson time.

It will be impossible for my kids' school to run it after-school hour as it is a two-session school, there won't be enough classrooms... how many parents are willing to send the kids on a Saturday just for one hour optional computer class?

The general view point and the disappointment felt across parents and children has been clearly spoken above.  No arrangement yet as we lack facilities to accommodate everybody. If we even manage to fit in a class, we already have to stay back for after school other activities plus compulsory tuition classes , how to accommodate another after school class?

My son is so disappointed that there is no more computer class. They study coding. Now, they end their Monday & Tuesday class early by 30 mins. What's the point?

I still cannot understand why those who complained did so in the beginning. How is fees being raise by 5 fold, time slots greatly reduced, and children having to stay back later just for this class work for the greater good?

I very much doubt the school can accomodate P1-6 having comp classes after school and/or weekends. Not enough free slots and computers. My kid actually lamented "How come the tadika kids can have computer class but we cannot?"

I'm very, very disappointed with both the "parent group" who advocate for this cancellation idea & MOE for not studying the pros & cons in details before implementation.

If Blanket Ban Is Not The Solution Then What Is?

The schools alleged in the misappropriation of funds should be audited and measures should be in place to make sure that all schools should be transparent in the use of  funds. That is something all parents want to see.

Since the computer classes is a fee paying subject which is not part of the national syllabus but one that is outsourced, it should not be made compulsory. The classes can be conducted on the last period of the day with those opting out allowed to go home earlier or go to the library to do some reading or homework.

The PIBG must get approval of parents and with these approvals send a written letter to the ministry to allow such classes to be carried on. (the earlier support letters had been declared null and void)

Do you have any other recommended solutions? We would love to hear it.

We hope the MOE will have a re look into this matter. It is a sad thing to deprive kids of computer lessons in schools which already have the facilities and existing lessons in place just because of a couple of unfortunate cases. 

We hope that the MOE will listen to the voices of parents. Sometimes groups which advocate for a certain cause may not represent the whole.

Of course the ideal is to have free computer lessons for all with teachers trained by the ministry and syllabus by the ministry but until we get to that point, we hope that cheap computer lessons for kids that cannot afford it can be continued in SJKC the way it was before.

Share this post if you agree.



  1. Computer or technology is part of life nowadays. So I really don't understand the reason to stop the classes at all.

    Ban and deprive students of computer classes but suggesting having smart phones to school as learning tool? That is definitely no for me. Hard to control when students bring their own phones to school. And what happen to those students that can't afford a phone??

    1. To be fair, the call was for personal electronic device, which include laptops and tablets and not smart phone but some news stated smart phones. In any case, we know what the parents in the group think about having smart phones in the classroom. A resounding No.

  2. Very well said and articulated....thanks

  3. Thank you for putting up this issue into a detailed and informative article for the parents to understand the actual situation.

    1. Thank you. Parts of the article are from actual discussion from parents in our group.


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