At the start of Phase 1 of the period post-Circuit Breaker, many Singapore students have returned back to school after a month of full Home-based learning.
Home-based Learning Cannot Replace Classrooms
Mr Ong visited Xingnan Primary School in Jurong West on the morning of 2 June.
Speaking to reporters at the media visit, he acknowledged that while Home-based learning ensured that students could continue to learn during the Circuit Breaker, there are still limitations.
According to him, self-directed learning cannot fully substitute in-class learning however, it could give students the opportunity to go beyond the curriculum and satisfy their curiosity.
And that is especially true when it comes to the “face to face (or mask to mask) interactions with classmates and teachers”.
“Every student, every teacher I met told me they were excited to be back,” Mr Ong also shared his experience from the school visit in a Facebook post.
There was also a 96% attendance rate registered on the first day of Term 3 post-Circuit Breaker at Xingnan Primary School.
Students enjoying one another’s sharing about how they spent their time during the Circuit Breaker period. | Photo: Ong Ye Kung/Facebook
“Blend” Classroom Learning and Digital Online Learning: MOE to Review
In assessment of Home-based learning, Mr Ong shared: “having forced ourselves to do this for a whole month, we also learned how to do it better, and that there are certain strengths in online learning that actually, classroom learning does not have,” he told reporters.
Home-based learning for the students have “taught us a lot”, said Mr Ong, allowing children the flexibility to explore and study at their own pace.
He added that the Ministry of Education will be reviewing ways to “blend” classroom learning and digital online learning to “harness the best of both worlds in a modern education system”.
Mr Ong noted that there are many areas for improvement especially because schools entered full home-based learning “at such short notice.”
He emphasised that education “is really not just about taking exams or getting good grades” but also about “character and socio-emotional development”.
“We cannot deprive a whole generation of that experience,” he said.
Safety Precautions Implemented in Schools
With schools re-opening, some if not most parents would be concerned of their kids. Some observations made during the school visit to Xingnan Primary School included:
- Students having to go through visual screening before entering school (and asked if they have adult household members who are feeling unwell)
- Each cohort with an allocated route in getting to their respective classrooms
- Designated toilets for students
- Pupils were taught how to remove their masks, placed into resealable bags to be stored, and then worn again after the lesson during a Primary 6 physical education lesson
- the teacher wore a face shield and used a microphone
- explaining of safety precautions and procedures
Students will put their mask into the ziploc bag and hang it according to their register number before they begin any physical activity. | Photo: Ong Ye Kung/Facebook
“(We will) come back to school progressively with precaution and make things as safe as possible,” Mr Ong said.
All schools will proceed with tightened safety measures following schools re-opening post-Circuit Breaker, including:
- Groupings of students staying in class
- Staggered recess times and dismissals
- Daily temperature-taking
- Appropriate distancing
- Wipe-down routines
- Teachers and students wearing masks or face shields (except when eating or exercising)
- Fixed exam-style seating
“We can’t keep our kids at home for so long”
In light of how the COVID-19 vaccine could be found only in a year or more, Mr Ong shared in his post that it is not possible to keep children at home for extended periods of time.
“It will severely impact their socio-emotional wellbeing and their whole-person development (sic)”, he said.
With community cases in Singapore currently on the low, it presents an ideal time to help ease students back into the school environment.
“As we carefully reopen the economy and parents have to go back to work, (parents) need to have peace of mind that their children can study in a safe and orderly school environment.
In his post, he also urges everyone to be socially responsible so that Singaporeans can “progressively reclaim (their) lives, freedom and future”.
“The onus is now on all of us, to take care of our personal hygiene, be socially conscious, and work together.”
At Xingnan Primary, students recite the pledge in Mother Tongue on Tuesdays and Fridays. And in Term 3, they do this in Malay. | Photo: Ong Ye Kung/Facebook
You can view Mr Ong’s full post here:
Lead image via Ong Ye Kung/Facebook