Parents worry about disruptions in their kids’ education

During the MCO, open and distance learning (ODL) has become a big part of parents’ lives. - NSTP/File picDuring the MCO, open and distance learning (ODL) has become a big part of parents’ lives. – NSTP/File pic

The announcement that schools across the nation will reopen soon for Form 5 and Form 6 students drew mixed reaction from parents with children in non-exam classes.

While some think the move is in line with health guidelines, others worry about the long-term disruptions to their kids’ education.

As a mother of three, Malini Eaganthan is worried about how the pandemic has affected her children’s education.

“My kids have never failed to complete their online work, but without physical classes, I’m worried about the development of skills such as experimentation, exploration and creativity.”

“I’m also concerned about how the Year 6 and Form 3 students will be evaluated. I don’t think the work submitted online should be counted because it’s done with the parents’ guidance so it’s not 100 per cent their effort.

“Sometimes, I feel like I’m working 24/7. Many mothers are currently struggling to balance their career and children’s education.”

Teachers have done an exemplary job in the situation, she said but the result is not the same as face-to-face learning.

“I’m unsure of how well the kids understand the lessons. I noticed that the teachers and the children would grow restless after an hour of lessons.”

Malini feels that the Education Ministry should consider enhancing the online teaching methods.

“Online classes should be reorganised and held frequently. Since they can be recorded, the kids who are unable to join the lessons can view the videos at another time.

“For standardisation, the ministry can create a special system for teachers to upload their lessons and students to submit their work. This way, students who fail to do so can be traced.

“The ministry should also consider giving computers to students from the B40 group,” said the founder of four kindergartens.

For Dr Roslinda Alias who has three school-going children, the announcement that schools will only reopen to exam classes came as a relief as it can minimise the risk of infections.

“Dealing with hundreds or thousands of youngsters at one time will put a huge burden on teachers and administrative staff to follow the Health Ministry’s guidelines.

“On the other hand, not reopening the schools entirely may pose problems to working parents. Who will take care of their children, especially the younger ones?”

During the MCO, open and distance learning (ODL) has become a big part of parents’ lives, she said.

“My husband and I regularly track our kids’ learning progress, so that they will not be left behind. We are fortunate to have good equipment and internet connectivity. The real concerns here are families without laptops or internet connection which may impede the children’s learning.”

According to Roslinda, educators must understand that remote learning can be conducted via various platforms.

“For instance, the Education Ministry used TV Pendidikan to cater for the disadvantaged students in this pandemic.

“Not everything has to be done online. An increased exposure to electronic gadgets may lead to health issues including eyes strain and stress. Educators may also face similar situations which can lead to inefficient learning processes.”

Moving forward, schools must involve parents in the learning elements and provide socio-emotional support for students, she added.

“Teachers can work together with counsellors in identifying students who are in need via a close relationship with parents.”

Another mother, Wan Lydiana Wan Abdul Aziz welcomed the decision for other students to continue learning from home. She is a housewife with children aged 4, 10 and 15.

“The current distance learning methods are good enough to keep the students occupied and up-to-date with their lessons, but it still lacks interaction and personal touch to ensure that the child truly understands the lessons taught.”

She noted that children are prone to various distractions at home.

“I’m concerned they might be left behind as learning from home has a very different environment.

“Tending to numerous chores at home, parents cannot fully focus on the children’s online classes. With a small child, I find it challenging to juggle homeschooling with housework and other tasks at hand. Not everyone can handle it well.”

Schools need to be more engaging with parents and students via all learning platforms, said Wan Lydiana.

“I think video calls are effective as they can see teachers and other students face to face and there are immediate interactions. Teachers have to be more consistent in conducting the classes.

“Meanwhile, the ministry should take all the necessary measures to ensure the education of the students are not greatly affected, and at the same time, ensure that students’ health are taken care of.”

According to a father to two children, Raymus Yu Wing Fatt, allowing students from non-exam classes to continue to learn remotely is the right move from the health aspect.

“I would feel extremely nervous and anxious for my child’s safety and health at school and also the risk that my child might bring the virus to the family and infect everyone.”

However, online education has its pros and cons, he said.

“While it is a safer option and prevents the risk of transmission, there are also flaws namely poor internet access or the issue of lazy students that do not have the motivation to complete their assigned school work. I think these would definitely affect students’ knowledge and grades,” said Raymus.

By Rayyan Rafid.

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