Minister of Education, Ong Ye Kung assured the public that starting 8 April 2020, schools island-wide are to be closed and curriculums will be shifted online. Minister Ong was confident in saying that the transition to home-based learning would be smooth as schools had one day of e-learning in preparation for the rest of the month.
My curiosity on the concerns of home-based learning (HBL) led me to check out MOE’s Facebook page and I was very much intrigued by the comments I was reading. The comments run the gamut of emotions—from asking MOE to streamline the cancellation of CCAs, to irrelevant comments on how a parent had time to bond with her child as they baked a cake, and perhaps the most heated topic of them all—“can I get a refund for the school fees?”.
Now, this is just the tip of the iceberg, in true Singaporean fashion, ridiculous home-based learning comments were jumping out left and right as I continued to read the comment thread. Here are my top 10 selection of ridiculous comments to offer you some entertainment during these trying times of isolation.
1. Because Singapore is as small as a tuition centre class
Of course, tuition centres would have the initiative to come up with quick and effective solutions to replace teaching in a classroom setting—they’re paid handsomely to do so. One must also consider the implementation of such online classes. While tuition class sizes max out at 20 students, MOE has to deal with schools nation-wide, not a mere class of 20.
One must also understand that in times of this pandemic, MOE’s responsibilities do not lie solely in your child’s education but also in the ease of communication between schools and the ministry, and of course taking into account the welfare of our teachers.
2. Because teachers are supposed to be your IT support too
Given the new circuit breaker measures, the government has doubled down on limiting groups of people in both public and private spaces. Having IT personnel to come down to homes whenever one is experiencing problems is inefficient and simply not plausible.
Dear parents, you’re not the only ones experiencing high levels of anxiety right now, we all are. Also, will you look at the grammar of the OP? If I was a teacher, I would worry about leaving education in the hands of someone who spells leave as ‘lease’.
3. Because augmented reality (AR) is very much feasible for HBL
If you don’t know what AR is, let me fill you in. Augmented Reality, not to be confused with virtual reality, is the technology which enhances the real-world environment of the user with computer-generated perceptual information, to present an alternative reality on screen.
With parents already complaining that the Singapore Student Learning Space (SLS) does not have enough bandwidth to manage the current workload as students simultaneously log onto the website, I think AR would be a far greater reach in this current pandemic. Maybe between now and the next pandemic, MOE would have advanced enough technology to provide such a service.
4. Because the SLS creates and uploads content on their own
Now for some context, this comment was extracted from the live stream comment thread from 2 April 2020, before it was announced that schools would be shutting down. This was when MOE was testing out HBL and when students were in the ‘one-day-of-HBL-a-week’ situation.
This comment is absolutely ignorant, who do you think uploaded the curriculum onto SLS? Artificial Intelligence? School admin? A table? Child, please. Take several seats.
5. Because our top concern during a pandemic is… fun
Yes, not everyone can teach. But it is in times like these that parents should take advantage of the extra time they have with their children and cultivate a deeper familial bond. To kill boredom, come up with creative ways to keep your child busy with activities such as collage making using old newspapers or even something simple like watching a kid-friendly film.
Audible is also offering free audiobooks this month. So you can pop in the room next door and scream into a pillow for a good 30 minutes while your child is enraptured by the imaginative retelling of classic children literature.
6. Because MOE lying is beneficial to the nation
AS MUCH AS I WOULD LIKE TO HAVE A ‘NO WORDS’ REACTION TO THIS, I CANNOT, FOR I AM A WRITER AND MY EDITOR WOULD DISAPPROVE. I TRULY WONDER HOW HIGH THIS PERSON’S STANDARD IS. AND ALSO PONDER ON WHAT MOE COULD POSSIBLY LIE ABOUT. OUR COUNTRY HAS DONE NOTHING BUT PROVIDE EMOTIONAL AND FINANCIAL SUPPORT IN SUCH A DECISIVE AND EFFICIENT MANNER. I GUESS SOME PEOPLE CAN’T BE PLEASED NO MATTER WHAT THE COUNTRY DOES.
7. Because God forbid we stare at a screen for too long
The solution is simple: make your child stare out the window every one to two hours. Have them take mental breaks if they complain of being overworked. Take your child’s needs seriously as they adjust to HBL. Staring at a screen for too long as adults is not beneficial as well, but you don’t hear those working from home complaining about this to their employers, do you?
8. Because having too many children is MOE’s fault
I’m not saying that part of your family planning should take into account extraordinary circumstances such as pandemics and the chance of your children needing to use devices for their education as they stay home—I’m saying that if you need help, MOE has schemes that allow the loan of equipment that will help facilitate HBL. In terms of household bills, the government will be providing double GST vouchers for households who have five or more members.
9. Do spare a thought for MOE
To say that MOE plans to fail is a far cry from what the ministry is trying to achieve. And to call those trying their hardest at providing your child education during COVID-19 useless if they cannot solve all of your problems is a problematic thought in itself.
To the person who made this comment, you are a grown adult. Just because you are going through hardships right now does not give you the right to project your anxieties and responsibilities onto others. AND WRITING IN ALL CAPS DOES NOT MAKE YOUR POINT ANY MORE VALID.
10. Saving the best for last
Why is it so hard to get it through the thick skulls of parents like these that teachers are humans too and deserve the compensation that they receive, regardless of HBL or not. Dear parent, if you feel so strongly about unjustly paying school fees, I urge you to home-school your child completely. See if it’s as easy as making a moronic comment like yours. Perhaps, you too can learn something from home-schooling your child—like, punctuations maybe?
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