Last week I sent out a letter to all parents and sponsors about the continuing problem of smoke haze in Malaysia and its impact on studies. You will be aware that many schools have been closed in certain parts of the country because of the ongoing situation, and we have received several enquiries about whether we will do the same at KYUEM. I am using this blog post to inform you that we have no such plans at present.
There are several reasons for us taking this decision. Let me start with why some schools have decided to close. I assume that most of them are not residential like us. I further assume that many of them are situated in locations where the haze is much worse than has so far been the case in Lembah Beringin. Imagine for a moment that you are the parent of a student at a day school: you will have to transport him/her to and from the institution, maybe through quite badly polluted air. Here in KYUEM, students only get exposed to it for a very short time: they go from air conditioned accommodation to air conditioned classrooms, labs and dining facilities. We have curtailed all outside activities temporarily and there are face-masks available to all students who need them.
Let us now consider the pressure all KYUEM students are under to complete their studies and do well in external examinations. Most of this pressure is due to time constraints. One of my favourite expressions here is that every lesson counts. To close the college would be extremely disruptive and its effectiveness would be questionable at best. As I type these words today (and at present, it is exactly 9.45 am on Wednesday, October 7) the sky is clear and the sun is shining. Last night we had prolonged and heavy rain which has undoubtedly helped. So, if we did close, for how long should we extend the period and at what cost to our students' academic careers? Moreover, they would first have to get home, where the atmospheric pollution may very well be worse than it is here.
Let me be clear about one thing: our students' well being is my prime concern. At present, I see no advantage to closing the college for an unspecified period, whereas I am convinced that the risk such closure might have on their examination results is very real.
I hope everyone appreciates why we are acting in this way. You also have my word that we will continue to monitor the situation on a day to day basis. If things ever change sufficiently for us to think that keeping KYUEM open is putting our students at risk, we will close the college immediately.
Next week you will have your sons and daughters home with you for the mid-semester break. I hope you all have a pleasant time together.