International Asia Home-based learning: Parents struggle with laptops, uniforms and more

Home-based learning: Parents struggle with laptops, uniforms and more

Ministry provides around 3,300 laptops and tablets, and about 200 dongles for Internet access




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Singapore — As part of enhanced measures against the spread of Covid-19, the Ministry of Education started home-based learning (HBL) from Wednesday (April 8).

According to on April 8, parents have been sharing their woes about trying to find laptops for their children, that the children are still required to wear their uniforms even though they are studying at home, as well as their struggles to manage more than one child at a time.

One such parent was 47-year-old Ragavan Nair, who has four children. His eldest child, who is a first-year student at Republic Polytechnic, taking human resource management, requires a laptop in order to do her work properly at home.

He said: “I wanted to go to Sim Lim Square but I was told by IT specialists that there were a lot of people trying to buy laptops and notebooks and that the brands I wanted would be out of stock.” He was eventually able to order a laptop from one of the school’s IT vendors  but delivery will be in about two weeks. In the meantime, his daughter will have to print out all her lessons in order to read them.

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Another parent, Ms Vimala Vishnupalan, is worried that her three young children will just bother each other even if one attempts to do online school work. Her two sons are in Primary 4 and Primary 6, while she also has a five-year-old daughter at home with her.

The 42-year-old stay-at-home mother said the boys watched TV and ate snacks when they were supposed to do school work. She said: “The concentration and focus is not there when they study at home. If you have one child, it is manageable but it is much harder with three.”

Meanwhile, another parent, Ms Gangadevi Routan, has been searching for a webcam for her desktop computer at home. While she has two laptops with webcams which are can be used by her 8-year-old and 10-year-old daughters, her niece also lives with them and requires a camera for her online classes as well.

She was concerned because most of the webcams in shops and online are sold out and shipping from abroad could take up to a month. This would mean that one of the girls will possibly miss a class or more if they are required to go “live” at the same time.

Aside from the webcam, Ms Gangadevi was also concerned that her 15-year-old niece is being made to wear her physical education (PE) attire during their online morning attendance. She said: “The whole purpose of HBL is for students to feel comfortable. So teachers’ concentration should be in the delivery of content and whether students are absorbing the lesson, instead of how they are dressed.”

For others, their HBL issues are mostly due to technical glitches. Mr Winston Tay said his 12-year-old son missed all his morning online classes last Wednesday (April 1). Thankfully though, it would seem that these issues with the son’s Student Learning Space (SLS) have since been worked out, allowing him easy access the next time around.

In order to help families successfully practise HBL, the ministry has provided around 3,300 laptops and tablets, and about 200 dongles for Internet access, to those students that need them. Meanwhile, other organisations like the self-help group Mendaki also promised to lend some laptops to those needing them. /TISG

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