Back to school? Not quite just yet

Jayda and her sister studying in their room.

KUCHING: Schools across the country were scheduled to reopen their doors today.

And as exciting as it is for the schoolchildren after a long hiatus, the pandemic situation took a twisted turn.

The number of Covid-19 cases in Malaysia increased on Jan 11 with 2,232 reported. Meanwhile, Sarawak recorded a record spike of 153 cases, the highest in a single day.

The decision to reopen schools became the centre of a debate, with fears that a new cluster could emerge. Luckily, the Ministry of Education (MoE) decided to continue with online classes for all schools, just like before.

Schoolchildren now need to adapt with the current situation and embrace virtual learning from the confines of their own homes. Of course, the learning experience will be very different from the classroom environment.

A tablet is used as a learning device for online classes.

For Jayda Bong Jie, the experience of online classes is far better because of the time spent doing her work. She is a Primary Five pupil of St Joseph’s Private School.

“My experience learning form home is way better than physical classes because the lessons are shorter and it makes me concentrate better,” she explained.

“The bad thing is I have to stare at the computer screen for ages.”

“I still enjoy chatting with my friends online whenever I can. That way I can still keep in touch with my friends,” she added.

Because the learning environment is different, students do enjoy learning online. When asked if she liked online classes, it was a definite ‘yes’ from her.

“Yes, definitely because there seems to be less things to do at this moment.  I can also wake up later and not having to spend so much time through the traffic.  I can also rest better at home. Of course for me, online classes are good.”

Asked if she would like to go back to school, it was a ‘no’. She said she would need to wake up very early in the morning and needed to stay in the school for eight hours. 

“That does not include one-and-a-half-hour spent getting ready and travelling to school. And then I have to wait another one-and-a-half-hour for my dad to pick me up and travel back home.”

For Jayda’s father, Jude Bong, he opined that online classes were the way to go at the moment and considered this method to be progressive for his children.

“Covid-19 has effectively sped up the inevitable where technology is used on a larger scale in teaching,” he said.

“There are hiccups here and there but this serves to highlight how much more we have to change and improve on syllabuses.”

Jayda’s sister, Jean Bon Yina, a Primary One student following lessons online.

Bong, who is also a teacher, sees his children doing online classes as a positive move and the way of the future.

“Syllabuses and teachers training have been tailored towards face-to-face learning and I feel this ‘traditional’ method has contributed to the ineffectiveness of online classes.”

Because of the Covid-19 situation, in Bong’s opinion, the education system needed to change drastically and the syllabuses needed to be revamped and tweaked to cater to the needs of the digital world.

“Teachers should teach students the whys and empower students to look for information as and when needed given the project.I believe the government should employ knowledge from the corporate world to bridge the gap between the academic world and corporate.”

His children are lucky as he and his wife are around to guide them through the transition from physical learning to full online lessons. Also for Bong and his family, they would be able to spend more time together

There are many differences and opinions from the public that schools should reopen so that children could catch up with lessons that they had been missing.

Despite what happened last year, and what has already happened in the last few weeks, there is not much anyone can do at the moment but to stay at home and continue studying online. Let’s just hope that everything will be better.