"Adik sudah bersarapan? (Have you had your breakfast?)" one mentor asked the child on a Saturday morning when the Zoom class began. "Ya, saya bangun awal untuk makan sarapan sebelum kelas (Yes, I woke up earlier to have breakfast before class)," replied the child.
Since the Movement Control Order (MCO) to the current Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) phase, many children had to go through the tough challenge of not being able to go to school; and then now going to school with a new norm in place--not being able to have a tablemate in class or even enjoy a break outside of the classroom during recess.
Socialising as a child is important for them to learn about how the world works and form relationships, just like how our best friend was someone who sat next to us in high school or someone we used to study with. While children have to live with the reality of not having these opportunities to socialise and learn like we once had in school, GG wanted to ensure that other opportunities for them to learn were still available.
This child who woke up early for our online classes has shown an excitement we have observed in most of the children who resumed attending our programs online in the past month.
"The children have been engaging and participative," said Liyana, our KidzREAD mentor who has volunteered in-person since before the pandemic to the online classes now. "Sometimes they can get a bit distracted and bored but I think the good has outweighed the bad when it comes to having online classes."
Another volunteer Jacelyn also shared that one good thing about the program was the way it was run did not change much. This gives the children a sense of familiarity where their mentor from before is still mentoring them now.
"If using online teaching is the only method we have for now, I will say it's important to keep the classes online. Although some may have experienced network problems or other setbacks, more importantly is the fact that we can still reach out to the students while keeping to the SOP, and keeping everyone safe. I do believe even a little effort still can bear fruits in the end." shared Bessmond, our LIT Mathematics volunteer.
The successful migration of our classes online is not just thanks to our volunteers. The GG team remembers having multiple meetings with our corporate partners (Mah Sing Foundation, KLK, Chek Hup, Sage Foundation, Linaco, and Outpost Uniform) during the lockdown period. One question these meetings aimed to solve was how to continue providing learning opportunities for our community children without putting anyone's health at risk.
It was also during this time that we received new enquiries from like-minded corporates like YTL Foundation who reached out to us saying they wanted to give our community families phones with mobile data for them to get connected. Before we knew it, a private donor also contacted us, wanting to donate tablets for the families.
Through the joint effort of corporates, private donors and NGOs, 132 families from our Education Programs now have data plans and devices that enables them to continue learning through our mentor-guided programs.
Will Online Classes Be Our New Norm?
While there are certainly challenges and limitations of online classes compared to physical classes, the reality remains that education inequalities will worsen if we do not act. The longer children are out of school or learning spaces, the greater the risk of disengagement, dropout, and the lower likelihood they will ever return and reintegrate. By providing access to remote learning opportunities, we hope to ensure children can learn even in times of crisis.
Another way you can help keep learning alive for children from low-income families is by giving to provide school uniforms or a meal in school to motivate children to go to school and stay in school. Find out more about our basic needs fund here and give to a child today through www.gengemilang.org/giving
Yayasan Generasi Gemilang (GG) is a non-profit organization under sub-section 44(6) of Income Tax Act 1967. We have been granted tax exemption status effective 1 June 2020. Therefore, all cash donations from June 1st onward will be tax-deductible. Do note that this is only applicable to donors or donor entities that file taxes with “Lembaga Hasil Dalam Negeri (LHDN)”, the Inland Revenue Board of Malaysia.