Driving instructors

Driving schools in Malaysia are facing a large backlog of students due to previous MCOs and current Covid SOPs

According to a report by malaysian mail. Meanwhile, driving lessons were halted and only essential service industries were allowed to operate.

Driving schools were finally allowed to operate from June 2020, but a second and third MCO, along with a Full Movement Control Order (FMCO) in 2021 halted operations for another extended period.

“It’s the first time I’ve seen such a situation where everything stopped and we couldn’t do anything but wait. Even after we reopened, things did not immediately return to normal and even now we are still recovering from the long shutdown,” said a staff member from Sekolah Memandu Malaya Tengah.

“When we were finally able to reopen, we had to first go to students whose classes had been canceled due to MCO, but at the same time we had new registrations. It was quite a mess if you ask me , but there was nothing we could do about it,” the staff added.

The problem is not helped by the sudden increase in the number of students, coupled with a shortage of instructors and vehicles used for driving lessons. Currently, Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) are a necessity and driving schools must incorporate them into their teaching modules.

“The SOPs are one of the main reasons why it takes longer than usual to complete the entire course. Before Covid-19, certain regulations already caused a slight inconvenience in the conduct of driving lessons. With the Covid-19 SOPs, it made things even more complicated,” the staff said.

This refers to the current status quo where students are taught one on one compared to the past where one or two other students were brought in for driving lessons. Staff noted that this is also a reason why more instructors are needed.

Echoing a similar message is Sekolah Memandu Gombak owner Kevin who said Covid-19 SOPs have caused a backlog of students. “We need more classes to accommodate more students, because we can only have 20 to 25 students in a [theory] class now compared to before where a class could accommodate 50 students. That is why the duration to complete a driving course now takes much longer,” he said.

Regarding the shortage of instructors, Kevin said the loss of income over the various MCO periods meant he could not afford to hire more staff. “We definitely need more vehicles to avoid delays, but more vehicles means more instructors, and that’s something I can’t afford right now. We have made a loss in the last two years since the first MCO and we simply cannot afford to shell out additional expenses,” he explained.

Despite the situation, Kevin said there have been few complaints about how long it takes to complete a driving lesson and students are still arriving. “We are grateful that people are understanding. Yes, some are complaining, but most are willing to wait,” he said.

On average, it took about two to three months to complete a driving course in the past, but this has risen to eight or even nine months. “It’s not even a fixed timeline, there’s no way we can guarantee given the ever-changing climate. Eight to nine months is a rough estimate, it could even take longer,” a- he noted, adding that the wait time to register is now around two years.