There will be no lessons in the first week of the new academic year for 2023/2024 which begins on March 19 and 20, education director-general Pkharuddin Ghazali said today.
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 education ministry will implement fun education and simple project-based learning," he said at a press conference in conjunction with the opening of the 2023/2024 school session in Putrajaya.
The new academic year will run from 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 comprises 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," Pkharuddin said.
Pkharuddin said that 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 ready for education apply those values in themselves, they will be well mannered, and have morals and integrity," he said.
He added that schools with only few students which have implemented curriculum programmes can still continue teaching and learning.
Meanwhile, he said, any form of competition, celebration or ceremony with no major impact will be scrapped from the 2023/2024 academic year as an immediate initiative to deal with the issue of teacher workload.
The frequency of revision of the Malaysian Education Quality Standard will be reduced to once a year from this session as well, compared to at least once every two years before, he said.
He said the annual Teacher's Day celebration will also be limited to the national and school levels compared to the state and district levels before.
Educators will also be given autonomy in the planning and implementation of teaching and learning as well as classroom assessments by using the standard curriculum and assessment document as a reference, he said.
To tackle the issue of heavy school bags, he said that school lockers will be provided, with activity books provided by the education ministry, while workbooks can only be used as reference or revision material outside of teaching and learning hours.
The number of exercise books has also been limited, with no more than two for each subject at one time and not exceeding 80 pages.