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 instil physical, emotional, spiritual, social and intellectual values, he said.
“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.
The new academic year will start on 19 March 2023 to 9 March 2024 for Group A states, and 20 March, 2023 to 10 March 2024 for Group B states.
Group A involves Johor, Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu, while Group B covers Melaka, Negeri 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.
According to Pkharuddin, Ministry Circular No 5/2023 encourages schools to hold appropriate programmes or activities to socially and mentally prepare students for the new academic year.
“Physical, emotional, spiritual and social values are prioritised because when students ready for education apply those values in themselves, they will be well mannered, have morals and integrity,” he said.
He stated that schools with a small student population and curriculum programmes can continue to teach and learn.
Meanwhile, Pkharuddin mentioned that any form of competition, celebrations, or ceremonies with no significant impact will be eliminated beginning with the 2023/2024 academic year as one of the immediate initiatives to address the issue of teacher workload.
The Malaysian Education Quality Standard (SKPM) will be revised once a year beginning with this session, down from at least once every two years previously, he said.
The annual Teacher’s Day celebration will also be limited to the national and school levels, as opposed to the state and district levels previously, according to Pkharuddin.
He also stated that educators are 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 guide.
To address the issue of heavy school bags, he stated that beginning with the next school year, school lockers will be provided, with activity books provided by the MoE, while workbooks can only be used as reference or revision material outside of teaching and learning hours.
He also stated that the number of exercise books is limited, with no more than two for each subject at a time and no more than 80 pages.