Make online learning more affordable

As much as parents want their children back in school, and as much as teachers prefer to work face-to-face with students, it is not possible for the time being.

As long as Covid-19 cases remain high, we are likely to stick to online classes.

It is a fact of life that laptops, tablets and other such devices are essential now for education.

One way around this is for the Education Ministry to make laptops or other devices a requirement from Year 1.

It should be part of the checklist when a student starts school.

A big problem is B40 students and parents with more than one child who may not be able to afford such devices.

Perhaps the ministry can work with schools or private entities to provide instalment plans for parents to buy the devices.

What happens if there is another pandemic? Learning must continue no matter what.

Another problem is few if any teachers have been trained to conduct online classes. They are learning as they go along. There are bound to be issues.

Another issue is teachers in national schools have 30, 40 or even 50 students in a single classroom and it will be difficult to monitor all of them.

Having said that, educators have to also make the best of the situation by ensuring quality online lessons.

That means making the classes interesting, so children are engaged and want to keep learning.

Students miss socialising with their schoolmates and doing fun activities such as sports or joining classes such as dancing and acting.

They can’t hang out with their peers, and this is detrimental to their social skills.

That is why some parents want their kids back in school. They can see their children becoming withdrawn.

Sadly, no matter how well the lessons are conducted, some would inevitably be left behind. The most badly affected are the younger ones.

I agree with a suggestion by a former teacher who said retired teachers could help kids who have lost out on their academic year.

These teachers can also be mentors to younger educators. Teachers, besides handling huge classes, are also bogged down by too much paperwork.

The retired teachers can not only help the Year 1 and Year 2 pupils but could also be used to help those facing major government examinations.

I know many teachers would gladly do so if asked.

Educators never stop wanting to teach.

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