On March 6, 2022, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that it will be providing locker facilities in primary schools as an approach to address the problem of heavy school bags. The total estimated allocation for this year is RM37.3 million, involving 10,662 classes with 323,186 students.
According to MOE, lockers will be provided for standard 1, 2 and 3 pupils operating in two sessions this year while the second phase of the locker initiative is expected to start in 2023, which will see the provision of lockers extended to Years Four, Five and Six pupils in double-session schools.
Two months since the announcement was made, we have not seen MOE installing the lockers in schools. Instead, a primary school in Kuala Lumpur is offering lockers to students to keep their books with a fee of RM120 for eight months.
According to a local media report, the school had outsourced the installation and maintenance of the lockers to a private company. Parents who are interested have been told to contact the school authorities and make the payment directly to the company.
Even if this project is carried out with the consent of the schools’ parent-teacher associations, the elephant in the room is where are the lockers promised by the Ministry of Education? This situation clearly illustrates how MOE failed miserably in solving the issue of heavy bags and even installation of the lockers.
I asked about the timeline of MOE to install lockers in school during the March 21 Parliament sitting. Sadly, the Deputy Education Minister Mah Hang Soon could not provide any clarity. All he said was more study needed to be done before any concrete timeline could be given.
It is strange that the study was not conducted before MOE made the announcement on lockers on March 6. Nonetheless, before more and more PTA resort to self-help by renting lockers for their students, MOE should now provide a clear timeline as to when the lockers will be installed.