People’s Voice founder and political activist Lim Tean has slammed Singapore Minister for Education Ong Ye Kung for remaining resolute in his decision to reopen schools despite the public uproar this decision has caused.
Mr Lim on Tuesday (May 26) took to Facebook to publicly call out Mr Ong not only for his decision to continue with reopening schools, but also for his denial of the request of some parents to stick to Home Based Learning (HBL) to limit the risk of their children catching Covid-19.
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According to recent reports, Mr Ong’s announcement of the resumption of classes has raised concerns. Despite the new system that will be implemented, wherein students take turns switching from HBL to face-to-face classes and safety measures are enhanced, parents have found issues with certain aspects of the “new normal” of education. Some of these issues include the length of time children will have to don a mask and the risk of infection. Other parents also asked the Minister if they could opt to stick to HBL as they were concerned for the safety of their children. Though Mr Ong addressed some concerns, his statement regarding the HBL option was, “We cannot make attending school voluntary.”
Mr Lim joined in the uproar over this issue, referring to Mr Ong’s decision as a sign of “surreal incompetence.”
“We understand that to date, 10 pre-school staff have tested positive for coronavirus. And the testing is not complete yet and will only be completed by the end of the month,” wrote Mr Lim, arguing that the number of cases are expected to rise. He then questioned why Mr Ong did not seem to consider this as an increased risk for young children.
“The fact of the matter is that the situation is still not stable enough to be sending children back to school,” argued Mr Lim. He also cited a recent statement made by National Development Minister Lawrence Wong, who said that the expected rise in Covid-19 cases is due to community transmission.
Mr Lim also questioned why schools were re-opening, given that under Phase 1 of the easing up of the circuit breaker, “2/3 of the workforce will still be working from home.”
“Parents have every right to ensure the safety of their children and if they do not feel comfortable in sending their children to school at this point in time, what right has Ong Ye Kung to force them to do so?” said Mr Lim.
Furthermore, in a more recent post, Mr Lim shared a statement made by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has stated, “I will not allow the opening of classes…unless I am sure that they (children) are really safe.”
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“This is what I call real common sense and a genuine concern for the health and safety of the young!” wrote Mr Lim. “Ong Ye Kung, you should learn from President Duterte!”
He also cited Cambridge University, which has already suspended lectures until 2021, and reiterated his question as to why Mr Ong is still pushing for the resumption of face-to-face classes.