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How home-based learning shows up inequality in Singapore – a look at three homes, Lifestyle News & Top Stories

SINGAPORE – With schools completely closed and online learning, faulty lines in the digital space are beginning to emerge in the harsh light of the epidemic.

Since April 8, students in Singapore have been engaged in full-time home-based learning (HBL), requiring the use of a laptop or tablet, to prevent the spread of Kovid-19 as part of a circuit-breaker. .

The government, schools, community groups and shops have seen an increase in demand for electronic devices.



According to data provided by the Ministry of Education, approximately 12,500 laptops or tablets, as well as 1,200 Internet-enabled devices, such as dongles, have been loaned to students who do not have enough devices at home for HBL.

HBL, which applies to students in all schools and institutes of higher education, includes a mix of online and offline learning.

This typically involves e-learning and completing workbooks and worksheets through the Student Learning Space (SLS) platform. Many students, who are unable to stay home for HBL, are allowed to attend school.

However, observers say the rich-poor differences highlighted by Kovid-19 go beyond the digital divide.

They may fear inequality in Singapore as coronoviruses continue to dominate the global economy.

In addition to the availability of equipment, there are other factors that determine the extent to which children can extend the benefits of HBL.

Professor Lim Sun Sun, who teaches communication and technology at the Singapore University of Technology and Design (SUTD), includes issues of physical environment, parental skills and connectivity.

For example, a child who has his or her own room may find it easier to focus on HBL, while three children who share a laptop in the living room may have more difficulty focusing on the assignment.

In addition, parents working from home “need to be hands-on to help show their kids the technical vibrancy”, says Prof Lim, a nominated MP who’s SUTD’s Humanities, Arts and Social Sciences Heads the department. For example, e-learning requires negotiating passwords, working on different interfaces, and uploading all homework.

In addition, wealthy parents have the option to pay for online tuition, which may promote HBL for their children.

Dr. Stephanie Chok, assistant director of research and program development at Beyond Social Services, a charity that operates in low-income homes, notes that Kovid-19 badly affects poor families.

Free tuition sessions run by volunteers for needy families are ground for a halt under the circuit breaker.

Dr. Says Chok: “Inequalities will become widespread since working in low-paid sectors, such as the services sector, has been badly affected.

“Competition for these types of jobs has increased, yet instability has increased. Many of the people we support are part-time or casual workers, who are often dismissed first, or no-pay.” Called to take leave. ”

Without social-scale interventions, inequalities that have been exposed are likely to worsen, says sociologist Teo You Yenn, whose bestselling book, This Is What in Inequality Like Like (2018), puts inequality at the forefront of policy discussions. Helped bring.

Associate Professor Teo, head of sociology at Nanyang Technological University (NTU), says: “Some of these defect lines lie along socio-economic lines. The question of equipment and Internet access is probably the most easily resolved (as supplied by equipment Is being done.) Various groups). But beyond this, there is unequal access to space, for technical assistance, to help children in school.

“The longer it goes on, the more the gap will widen because when children return to school, those who are already behind will be further behind.

“Furthermore, the global economic impact of the crisis will likely have long-term consequences for disparities in families. …. We may see an increase in the number of youth who need to leave school and start work early to support their families Needed.” Conversely, youth whose family income is allowed may decide to stay in school longer, rather than entering a bad job market. ”

In the long run, she says, it can increase educational attainment and income disparities within the same age.

The Straits Times investigated how HBL highlighted differences in study environments in three families from different economic backgrounds. From families with enough resources to provide other life skills during this period, who are struggling to optimize study in a tight flat, they are all doing the best they can.

Build life skills during the construction of home living life

Sleep trainer Zoe Choo (right), her husband, dentist Justin Stewart Saga, and their children: (from left) Dylan, Alyssa, Callum and Breyden, on April 15, 2020, during their work at home and home-based learning. Photo: Mark Cheung 

With four children between the ages of three and 13 at home, Ms. Zoe Chu says her family was “on the verge of a volcanic eruption” when full home-based education (HBL) began in earnest.

“All this while they were going to school, I could do my work from home in peace. Then I realized one day (of full HBL) that I had to be looked after,” said the 40-year-old, who runs SG Supernany, A baby and child sleep training consultation, from the family’s 1,200-square-foot, three-bedroom condominium in Jurong East.

“I think that’s something we all didn’t expect, you know – there’s so much work.”

Her husband, dentist Justin Stewart Saga, 43, “was still happily exercising” that morning, thinking that his children could handle HBL independently.

She says: “Like I was, I don’t think it’s gonna work. We need to supervise a lot more than just leaving them to their own devices.”

While her 13-year-old twins Breyden and Dylan managed their schoolwork independently, as they are in Secondary 2, they had to make sure they didn’t do too much gaming during the break.

Eight-year-old Callum, who is in Primary 3, needs more supervision, as she is easily distracted, and three-year-old Alyssa also had an HBL worksheet from her pre-school to complete.

“And they’re constantly asking for snacks as well in between. It’s like, I’ve just fed you,” Ms Chu said.

Since then, she has created a detailed program for children. For example, Callum includes one hour of exercise and “creativity time” and 60 minutes of educational activities online, as well as the promise of a game play reward if he follows his schedule properly.

Still, she admits, the morning is spent “being an elementary school teacher or kindergarten teacher”, so she can’t start at her work with clients until the afternoon.

Older children do their school work at the dining table. Bryden uses a MacBook, a requirement for his studies at the School of Science and Technology, Singapore; Dylan works on his father’s HP laptop and Callum uses an old spare laptop.

Ms. Chu helps children with problems with English, while her husband handles mathematics.

Sleep trainer Zoe Choo demonstrates how she helps her youngest child Alyssa in activities while she works from home on her laptop on April 15, 2020. Photo: MARK CHEONG 

“It’s not easy to teach our children,” she said.

When her husband becomes frustrated because Callum still doesn’t understand the split, he waits until he calms down.

“Then we talk about what is the best way to do it,” she says. “It’s all about communicating with each other. I know that a lot of families are probably being stressed, so I think it’s possible for married couples to argue each other’s tensions. Do not come in. ”

Ms Chu, who holds a master’s degree in commerce and management from Lincoln University in New Zealand, says she tells her children that “value is the most important thing; it’s not about grades”.

Children are expected to do some homework daily, even if they have a live-in assistant. The three boys, who share a room, clean their bed, empty the rubbish bin and do some vacuuming. Alyssa does her part by cleaning up after her activities.

In the same episode, Ms. Chu also got her teens to enhance their mindset by learning to “use an online subscription to Mentorbox” to become a better person. The subscription-based service provides, among other things, bite-sized summaries by authors of books on topics such as entrepreneurship and self-development.

“After they see it, I want them to come back and report to me, and tell me what they have learned, so that I too can learn from them.” For example, Dylan gave information on how to improve his Instagram bio, which he used immediately.

The social media savvy mummy also used the music-based platform TikTok to better teach her brother during her stay at home.

She asked him to take on the Blinding Lights challenge, which required him to do all the dances with the Epinem song from The Weeknd.

“It’s not perfect, but at least they tried to work together, and I think I can get them to do these themed challenges.”

Work in debt on rent

Salamiya Salam (third from left) and their four children, (from left) Muhammad Zulkarnain Haasim, Muhammad Hadiputra Hashim, Muhammad Handika Hashim and Siti Zubaida Hashim HBL project on April 14, 2020 in their flat in Lengkok Bahru. ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN 

A 14-year-old boy is sitting cross-legged on the floor looking at his tablet from school. While doing his homework on the floor, a nine-year-old child stretches on his stomach.

His other two siblings, a 12-year-old girl and a boy, aged 11, are seated at a small table against the wall in their two-room rental flat doing HBL.

Four children share three devices between them for HBL. The family has a laptop which they purchased at a discounted rate through a government scheme for low-income families. HBL has both a laptop and a tablet on loan from the school.

While the three devices are sufficient for the HBL needs of children, including hard copy worksheets and online assignments, families, who do not have a domestic Wi-Fi subscription, have connectivity problems.

The mother of 37-year-old children, Madame Salamia Salaam, uses a dongle, donated by charity, turns her smartphone into a Wi-Fi hot spot, but it is not working properly. Patch Internet access means online work for HBL from time to time.

The housewife, who left school after her N levels, finds HBL tense.

She says: “I have to teach my children. If they don’t understand the work, I have to explain it to them. But sometimes I don’t understand the concept myself. I go to YouTube to find out more Am. ”

She is refreshing her knowledge of factors, along with her youngest child, Muhammad Hadiputra Hashim, who is in Primary 4.

She says: “I wish my children had a more conducive learning environment. Then at least they could be more engaged learners. But we lack space, so we do what we do.”

The family-furnished rental flat in Redhill consists of a hall, a kitchen and a bedroom. They usually have dinner together in the hall.

During this period when the schools are closed and the noon hours are spread with laziness, the children have naped more than usual on pillows scattered on the floor.

Another source of stress for Madame Salmia and her 56-year-old husband is that he is out of work.

Mr. Hashim Kamid, the sole breadwinner, quit his job as a cleaner at a Combinium in late February. He feared bringing the coronovirus to his home a day after cleaning the lifts and other surfaces.

A few years ago, after an operation for an infected stomach ulcer, his doctor also advised the former rubbish collector to work in a more hygienic environment.

He was earning about $ 1,100 per month. Ms. Salmaiya has been taking some pieces of jewelery to the pawn shop over the past few months.

She says, “We had done this before too. Hashim had retreated when he was a child.”

She was “twenty-five” (Hokkien for shame) for asking for help. But Beyond Social Services, which has previously supported the family, asked if it needed assistance during the Kovid-19 outbreak.

The charity, which helps children and youth from less privileged backgrounds, provided him with $ 150 for groceries and is processing more financial aid for the family.

Solidarity payments, a $ 600 cash payment to adult Singapore to deal with the epidemic, have also reduced her burden, she says.

The couple hopes to return to normal soon and Mr. Hashim will get another job.

Meanwhile, they try to find some lightness in the situation.

Mr. Hashim, who has been used for cooking more, is not used to being around his four children 24/7. He recently asked his wife how she could tolerate children (Malay to bear) with children all day.

Anand IMDA Support Plan for a Free Laptop

Sheryl Shivani Michael Devaraj and her younger brother Gerald Giresh Raj Michael Devaraj are doing HBL. Photo: CYNTHIA JYANTHI D / O KUNESEELEN SECURITY

17-year-old Sheryl Shivani made her full-time debut at HBL.

Worried about not being able to study for her O levels this year, she recalls the disastrous reveal of a recent e-assignment she did on her smartphone, a device not suited to HBL.

It was opening several tabs on her mobile phone, which could not support all the features required for text. She could not complete her history assignment in the end.

He pledged to save lunch for his own laptop by skipping lunch at school.

“I didn’t want to share my feelings, because I was embarrassed and sad. I used to spend my lunch with my friends and go home to eat,” says Sheryl, studying in 5th grade.

Nor did she want to ask her mother, a single parent, to buy a gadget for her.

“I know the condition of mummies and how desperately they need to work for us. I saved a few years ago to buy my mobile phone. I’m good at saving money,” she says.

Her mother, Ms. Cynthia Gnanathi, who refused to give her age, is a nurse in a nursing home.

She tells Sheryl about her concern about the lack of a laptop near her teacher.

Ms. Cynthia says, “I work long hours. While I can sit with them for some time, I can’t go after them. I ask them if they need any help and I want to help their teachers.” Talking with you. ” Have two sons.

His younger son, Secondary 1, 13-year-old student Gerald Rajesh Raj, is using a laptop on loan from his school for HBL while his 19-year-old son is waiting to be admitted to the National Service.

Ms. Cynthia’s 68-year-old mother, who suffered a cardiac arrest in recent months and uses a wheelchair, also lives with her.

Fortunately, help was received when Sheryl’s teacher informed her of the NEU PC Plus program, which is administered by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

It offers low-income homes and people with disabilities the opportunity to own computers at a discounted rate. Successful applicants receive a desktop or laptop and a three-year free broadband membership.

Ms. Koh Lee-Na, Assistant Chief Executive Officer of IMDA’s Digital Readiness Cluster, says: “Since the circuit breaker measures were announced on April 3, we have seen a five-fold increase in the number of inquiries.”

He credits the rocketing interest for expanded support for students under the Ministry of Education (MoE) financial aid scheme.

Since Sheryl met the criteria of the MOE scheme, she received a free laptop last week.

HBL is now a breeze for her and she spends less time in her online work.

“With this new laptop, I’ve learned a few things such as how to use MS Word and how to submit an assignment through Google Classroom. It’s very fast,” she said.

“I wonder if I have my own laptop to use. After all, I can do something that my friends were doing at the moment.”



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