A proposal for staggered school holidays in a bid to address overcrowding at tourism hotspots and help boost the industry has received a mixed reaction, with some saying that it may be good for the tourism sector while others point to possible problems affecting education and family life.
Reacting to the proposal by the Tourism, Arts and Culture Ministry which had reportedly prepared a working paper on the matter, stakeholders including educators and parents had expressed the pros and cons of the idea.
“If implemented, it will be a problem for the pupils and teachers themselves. For example, family members working in different states will find it difficult to harmonise their holidays properly to come together or to organise a programme,’’said Pahang Council of Principal President Mohd Ariffin Ab Rahman in Kuantan.
Kuantan District Education Officer Razali Mustafa also drew attention to the difficulties in organising events such as national-level sports tournaments if school holidays are not the same.
In George Town, school teacher Siti Fatimah Mohamad Anwar, 38, who disagreed with the proposal, said it would disrupt the learning process in terms of the need to fulfil the syllabus before the examination.
For journalist, V Nagendran, 51, school holidays which were not uniform between states would make it difficult to organise events like wedding feasts or other functions to enable families and friends to come together.
“There are also parents whose children go to school in different states, it will be difficult for them to meet if their school holidays are not at the same time, it can indirectly cause relationships to slacken,” he said in Seremban.
‘Sync with parents’
Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Ugama (Perempuan) Alawiyah, Kangar Parents-Teachers Association (PIBG) president, Abdul Jalil Ramli said the best school holidays should take into account all parties such as working parents and school children to be on holiday simultaneously.
National Parent-Teacher Association Sarawak president Wan Zain Syed Mohdzar expected that if the proposal was implemented, the cost of travelling would be higher as tourism industry operators might raise prices at all time compared to seasonal currently.
Meanwhile, a secondary school teacher in Alor Setar, who only wanted to be known as Balqis, said the proposed staggered school holidays would be a constraint to married couples living far apart to holiday together.
“Indeed, it is difficult for people with long distance relationships. Because their holiday dates are not the same. One is on school holiday, the other goes to school … (the proposal) there are pros and cons to change from what is normal, “she said.
Private sector worker Zainudin Ali, 53, who agreed with the proposal, said: “When staggered school holidays are implemented, the problem of traffic congestion can be reduced and we are able to take a quieter and more relaxing vacation as there is no need for a crowded tourist presence in a particular area. “
Meanwhile, Johor’s SMK Puteri Wangsa Parents-Teachers Association (PTA) president Rahilah Abdullah argued that the cost of a holiday would fall if the proposed staggered school holidays was accepted while tourist spots would not be too crowded to visit.
National Union of the Teaching Profession (NUTP) president Kamarozaman Abd Razak suggested that the Ministry of Tourism, Arts and Culture and the Ministry of Education conduct joint studies to identify the effectiveness of the proposal.
National Parents-Teachers Association Consultative Council (PIBGN) Associate Professor Mohamad Ali Hassan said among the matters that needed to be studied involved programmes and activities at the national level that had been jointly drawn up with schools in different states.