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Recently, there was a video went viral, it was about a university lecturer interrogating a student why did he still uses mobile phone instead of computer for classes. When he realised the student family’s financial condition was bad, he sarcastically suggested that his sister should sell off her gold necklace to buy a computer for him. The teacher went even further and said that in his schooling years, he never sits with students of B40 group (low income group), because he claimed that they were always distracted and cannot focus….
There is a popular saying that “Opportunity always gives to those who are ready.” However, not everyone can get ready by themselves! Getting an opportunity is even tougher. Are we supposed to keep a distance from them? Or be the person who gives others opportunity?
While our reporters interviewed 2 primary schools in Batu Pahat and Ipoh to gather information on the effect of pandemic towards students, they also took the opportunity to interviewed local 7979 Companionship Class teachers to get a clearer picture of the situation. Other than this, they also sought advises from assistant lecturer Dr. Crendy Tan of Child Developmental Psychology, to have a deeper understanding of students’ needs and situation.
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Teacher Liew pointed out: “Although most of the students attended online classes, but the submission of homework rate was very low.” Teacher Chong added: “Even for students who performed well in physical class, sometimes didn’t hand in their homework too.”
Teacher Tu said: “Students gotten used to attend classes from home, which is more relaxing and less homework, therefore it is common phenomena to see students became lazier when they are back to school environment.” Teacher Choo continued on to share: “Some students’ family backgrounds are more complicated, their parents are too occupied with finding livelihood for the family, thus they neglected their children’s education. In addition, students having difficulties to focus on studies, therefore they seriously need someone to be concerned of their studies.”
Assistant Principal Lee recalled some under privileged families’ condition and expressed: “Students from families who are financially lacking, their families’ condition became worse when they have to be equip with full set of computer gadget or purchasing a mobile phone to attend online classes, plus the high data consumption, all these caused tremendous pressure to many parents. It was worse for parents who are worrying of losing their jobs or business becoming bad.” Thankfully, the school helped them to apply for subsidies for computer gadgets to attend online classes, they also gave some food supplies to families in difficulties.
“There was a family, the father passed away due to cancer, their mother is a Vietnamese, the student did not attend classes for weeks. So my school’s principal assigned me to help them to set up a full set of computer with necessary gadget to attend online classes. Later, I noticed that their internet data used up very quickly, after some probing, then only we realised that they used it to watch Vietnamese drama!” Teacher Loo shared humorously some of her interesting experience in helping students with mix feelings of upset and uncomprehend.
“No wonder they took 4 hours to complete 2 homework!” Ipoh Elim Gospel Hall Companionship Class Teacher Qian Wen shared, she had encountered a student who attended online class while watching You Tube. There was another case, where the student shared with Teacher Jie Zhi that he doesn’t do any other thing while classes on, but he can only focus for a while, then his mind get strayed away very quickly.
Teacher Wong expressed that her school did intervened into a case of a female student who had make online bad friend, this incident caught the school and parents’ attention. Dr. Tan responded: “Children need to express their emotion and feelings appropriately, if their feelings or emotions being suppressed for too long, then they may turn out to be in the two extreme expressions of either apathy or too enthusiastic.”
The influence of enticing virtual world brought by internet cannot be ignored. When a primary student who still lack of discipline owns a mobile phone that can access to internet, and without adult supervision, that can be disastrous.
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Dr. Tan reminded: “As students have less opportunities to ask and answer questions in an online class setting, interaction is also lacking, these leads to great disadvantage and slowing down of their growth in speech foundation and development.”
Nevertheless, Teacher Jie Zhi expressed that online class is not all bad, it definitely benefiting students who do poorly in school in two major ways. As their homework became lesser, students are not required to hand in homework on the following day. Thus, Companionship Class’s teachers were able to teach the students according to individual progress and ensured that they fully understand the lesson before moving on. In the past two years, students and teachers had the privilege to learn and teach at their own pace, they don’t have to rush to catch up with the mass.
Teachers play very important role in school, other than they need to cultivate the students from young to have habits of setting up goals and direction, they also have to help them to be responsible and civic minded. Assistant Principal Lee who had 18 years teaching experience shared this. She added on to say: “We should not assess a student just base on their grades, it has to be more diversify, such as art, skills and character. Currently, Chinese primary school no longer use grades in class arrangement, our main consideration is to avoid using grades to label a student. Every student has his or her own strengths and weaknesses, by guiding them, their potential can be better developed.”
Teacher Hong, a teacher who had taught for over 20 years in a Chinese primary school in Ipoh shared to us: “It is an accomplishment for us to be able to shape a student. They heard too many negative voices, so whenever the students shown some progress, I’ll praise them exaggeratedly.” Teacher Hong herself was originated from an under privilege family, back then she was doing not very well in school. But in her standard 6 years, she met a good teacher who gave her an opportunity which had totally transformed her life. Now, she wishes to be this type of teacher too, she hopes that the children will remember there was a teacher who praised them when no one acknowledges them.
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Gereja Ern Tian, Batu Pahat Companionship Class’s teacher said: “During MCO period, when the children remained at home, they kept on eating, so costs a lot. But when the children attend Companionship Class, their lunch and tea break are being taken care of, this has reduced their parents’ household expenses, especially for those families that have many children. Sometimes, kind hearted brothers and sisters will share with the children some special delicacies to bless them too.”
“There was one student who shared with me, that he will played mobile game from the moment he wakes up till at night.” Teacher Jie Zhi shared frustratingly. Thankfully, when the school and Companionship Class resumed physical classes, he returned to being eager in learning, he even informed the teacher which subject he needs to put in extra efforts. Teacher Qian Wen shared with thankful heart: “Now, they are in their learning prime age, if they don’t learn now, then it’ll be a waste of time which will be a pity.” The teaches are aware that the time they can spend with the children is very limited, therefore they think that it is important for the children to build strong foundation and cultivate good habit in their primary school years.
Teacher Jie Zhi told us, when brothers and sisters in their church saw that the children can spend hours focusing on their homework, they wanted their children to join Companionship Class too, but they were rejected based on unfulfilled requirement. Dr. Tan emphasised: “Peers social interaction is very important, children learn from interacting and observing others.” Therefore, when a child does not have self-discipline to learn, then they need to be confined in a space together with other students to learn, I belief good learning habit will be easier to build with the addition of teacher’s company and guidance.
7979 Under Privilege Children Companionship Class programme is a place of preparing opportunities to children. HISTEAM has been promoting this programme since our first trial in year 2012 until now. Under Privilege Children Companionship Class programme provides homework guidance, life coaching and family care.
If you wish to know more about Under Privilege Children Companionship Class programme, give the children an opportunity to turn things around, please click the link below:
1. All the primary school teachers’ names are pseudonym.
2. However all the names of Companionship Class teachers are their real name.
“有个学生告诉我，他从早上起来就玩电动直到晚上。” 洁芝老师无奈地告诉我们。但当学校和陪读班恢复实体课后，他又开始积极学习了，并且还会主动告知老师自己在哪个科目上需要多加强。倩雯老师更是感慨万分地说：“他们现在正是读书的年龄，如果现在不读书就是浪费时间，太可惜了。” 老师们晓得能陪伴学生的时间相当有限，因此认为小学时期就需要打好根基和建立好习惯。
注： 1. 华小老师一律以匿姓称呼 2. 陪读班老师则使用真名