Back to school | The Star

MANY changes will characterise the “new normal” once schools reopen. Students are hoping these will lead to a better learning environment.

During a recent webinar, Education Ministry officials said these temporary changes to the schooling system can be a positive move forward.

Students in national schools – usually with more than 30 students per class, will finally be given individualised attention by their teachers as the numbers are halved.

And, the temporary removal of national exams – UPSR and PT3 – for Year Six and Form Three students, may finally lead to a paradigm shift in mindsets where learning is done for the sake of knowledge, not merely to score a string of As.

Now that these will be part of the “new normal”, it is hoped that the move will result in more holistic and well-rounded students graduating from our education system – which is among the aims of the Malaysia Education Blueprint 2012-2025.

Durga Selvadurai, 17, from SMK (P) Sri Aman, Petaling Jaya, is looking forward to smaller classes and more face-to-face interaction with her teachers.

The Form Five student will be among the first to return once schools reopen.

“Being in a national school means we don’t really get the privilege (of individualised learning) as the teachers are usually busy and they don’t have much time to attend to us despite trying their very best, ” she said, adding that learning from home was “really hard” but she’s thankful for dedicated teachers who help keep her focused.

Yeoh Cheng Yen from SMK (P) Pudu, Kuala Lumpur, said the new norm would make it easier for teachers to focus on every student especially those who are weak in a certain subject.

Although she likes having fewer students in class, she worries that they would not be able to finish their syllabus on time if students are only allowed in school on a rotation basis.

“From my conditional movement control order (CMCO) experience, studying at home is not effective because the environment is too relaxed and there are many distractions.”

She added that questions students have would not be answered on the spot.These would have to be compiled for when they go back to school.

Kamaleshwari Sathiabalan, 15, won’t be part of the first batch of students to go back to school but she’s looking forward to getting more personal attention from her teachers as it will help her understand lessons better.

Thankful for the new system which will see students learning both in the classroom and online, she said e-learning is effective but its still more fun to be in class with her friends and teachers.

“When schools reopen, I hope teachers will revisit topics that were not adequately covered during the CMCO.”

A parent, who wanted to be known as Rekha, said students who are less academically-inclined would enjoy studying more now that exams are no longer a focus.

“This requires a re-jig in the syllabus, content, approach, training, delivery and articulation as well as goals set for the students and what is expected of them, ” she said, adding that it is hard to determine if students will “take it easy” this year.

“These kids are the product of a teaching and learning culture that has long emphasised on learning for exams.

“I do think there will be a certain level of taking it easy or becoming lazy, although I would sincerely hope otherwise.”

Referring to her son, who would have sat for the PT3 exams this year, she said: “Learning must be holistic and fun; not cursory and burdensome.”

This will allow all types of individuals to prove themselves and excel in what inspires and interests them, she added. – By REBECCA RAJAENDRAM

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