A Student’s View on Schools Reopening
As schools prepare to reopen after three months of closure due to the Movement Control Order (MCO) and Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), we ask our students how they feel about schooling arrangements in the New Normal. Sitti Mazni, a Form 4 student from Semporna, shares her experience of distance learning and her thoughts on not being able to return to school just yet.
I was very surprised when I was suddenly stuck in this unexpected situation where I could not perform my normal routine as a student who loves to go to school since the pandemic happened. Honestly, the word ‘lockdown’ did not mean much to me until I had experienced it myself. I’ve never been in such a situation until now, but this lockdown has actually taught me a lot of things. One thing that I’ve learnt in this lockdown is the efficient use of technology. For me, the most profound impact in this pandemic has been education. I have to use the internet, my mobile phone and computer as a means to learn.
Although online classes are a good initiative, I actually can’t rely on them for the entire session because studying in the classroom taught me the real essence of learning. I personally knew that virtual classes require a fast internet connection, but not everyone has access to it and I believe there are many students who may have missed many important lessons just like what I had experienced in this situation. I would like to share my actual situation during this period of attending online classes where I can see that the interactions between teachers and students were good in the early stages but slowly became worse along the way because of the bad internet connectivity.
It’s hard for me to describe my feelings due to this situation but as a generation of young students who love to socialise, of course, I felt very disappointed because this unexpected holiday was too long and I really miss chatting with my friends, attending physical education classes (PJK), participating in extra-curricular activities, recess time and my lovely classroom. Even though online classes do help to facilitate learning, but for me, they were not as efficient as learning in an actual classroom because learning in the actual classroom helps me to understand concepts better. At the same time, I’m so happy because the Ministry of Education has announced that schools will be reopened although for now, only students sitting for examinations are allowed to go back to school. However, I believe that they are trying to send all of the students back to school again when this pandemic situation gets better, I really hope so!
Furthermore, I also try to be more empathetic because I understand this pandemic situation is not easy and I’m always trying to understand it better. There’s also a little bit of jealousy in me because the priority is given to the students sitting for exams. On top of that, I felt a bit guilty because I felt like I’m being a bad student as I’ve become lazy and unproductive since this lockdown started. This was because I couldn’t go out and about my usual routines such as jogging with my friends or spending time with my family by doing some outdoor activities. To be honest, this kind of situation has lowered my confidence level as I kept telling myself that I’m not good enough and started to compare myself to anyone who was doing better. But despite being in this tough situation, I always remembered what Bill Gates said, “Don’t compare yourself to anyone in this world. If you do so, you’re insulting yourself” and his words motivate me to just be myself!
Actually, I’ve had some expectations before the announcement was given by the Ministry of Education. I was expecting that all students could go back to school again instead of Form 5 and Form 6. Besides, I had also expected that the school will have a strategy in the form of a rotation system so that every student could attend school again. For example, a system should be devised in which half of the school’s students and teachers attend the school on one day and the other half should attend on the next day. Those who stayed at home could study via online classes so they could have time to complete their homework or task given by their teachers since they’re not going to school. For me, this will not only facilitate learning but will also reduce contact and also ensure social distancing. Personally, the cancellation of UPSR and PT3 examinations feels unfair as the new assessments assess students differently from UPSR and PT3 originally. I hope that the new assessment strategies introduced by the government will provide a levelled playing field in the future.
For the next three months, I really hope that this pandemic will end so that I can go back to school and resume my normal routines all over again. For me, if schools are still not reopening soon, I hope that I can improve myself because I’m having problems with managing my time. I want to change to become a better version of myself when this pandemic is over. So far, I’m very desperate to return to school again because I can’t just sit at home as it is quite difficult for me to cover the entire syllabus through virtual learning and being a bored class student. I personally feel the need to get into the classroom as soon as possible. But honestly, from the bottom of my heart, I believe that every cloud has a silver lining and the same goes happening to the situation we all are facing right now. Just be patient and everything will be okay!
Teach For Malaysia recruits, trains and supports Fellows to teach in high-need schools across the nation. Beyond the Fellowship, our Alumni continue to champion education in different ways. As of 2019, we’ve impacted over 111,000 students, working with the Ministry of Education and other partners. During the MCO period, TFM has worked to minimise disruptions in the lives of, as well as support the wellbeing and learning of our students, teachers, school leaders and parents.