PUTRAJAYA: There will be no lessons in the first week of the new academic year 2023/2024 beginning March 19 and 20, Education Ministry (MoE) director-general Datuk Pkharuddin Ghazali said.
Instead, the first week will be filled with sessions that instill physical, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual values, he said.
This is the first time that such an initiative is being done at the start of a new school term.
"The focus of the first day of school before was on academics but for the 2023/2024 session the MoE will implement fun education and simple project-based learning," he said in a press conference in conjunction with the opening of the 2023/2024 school session here today.
The new academic year will start on March 19, 2023 to March 9, 2024 for Group A states, and March 20, 2023 to March 10, 2024 for Group B states.
Group A involves Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, while Group B covers Melaka, Negri Sembilan, Pahang, Perak, Perlis, Penang, Sabah, Sarawak, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Labuan and Putrajaya.
"In the past, the focus on the first day was to dive straight into the teaching of academic subjects, but this time we are asking schools to strengthen the relationship between teachers, students, parents and the community. All this will raise the spirit of supporting each other right from the beginning of the school year," he said.
Pkharuddin said ministry circular No 5/2023 encourages schools to hold appropriate programmes or activities to prepare students socially and mentally for the new academic year.
"Physical, emotional, spiritual and social values are prioritised because when students apply those values in themselves, they will be well-mannered, have morals and integrity," he said.
He said schools that have few students and have implemented curriculum programmes can still continue teaching and learning.
Pkharuddin, meanwhile, said any form of competition, celebrations or ceremonies with no major impact will be scrapped from the 2023/2024 academic year as one of the immediate initiatives to deal with the issue of teacher workload.
The frequency of revision of the Malaysian Education Quality Standard (SKPM) will be reduced to once a year from this session as well, compared to at least once every two years before, he said.
The annual Teacher's Day celebration will also be limited to the national- and school-levels compared to having it at state and district levels before this, Pkharuddin said.
Educators are also given autonomy in the planning and implementation of teaching and learning as well as classroom assessment by using the Standard Curriculum and Assessment Document as a reference, he said.
To tackle the issue of heavy school bags, he said that in the new school year, school lockers will be provided, using activity books provided by the MoE, while workbooks can only be used as reference or revision material outside of teaching and learning hours.
The number of exercise books is also limited, with no more than two for each subject at one time and not exceeding 80 pages, he said.– BERNAMA