Recently, the Ministry of Education (MOE) announced that the well-known June holidays would be pulled forward to 5 May 2020. Due to the extension of the Circuit Breaker period till 1 June 2020 which means a prolonged period of full Home-Based Learning (HBL) for educators, students, and parents to adapt to, the main motive of the change was to provide everyone with a much-needed early break from the understandably-exhausting adjustments that have to be made. As a result, lessons will resume on 2 June 2020. Term 3 will now be longer in a sense, but there will be an additional mid-term break from 20 July to 26 July put in place to ease that. These changes will take effect for all MOE Kindergartens, primary, secondary and Pre-University students, including students from Special Education (SPED) schools.
Online opinions regarding this move have been varied. So, is it a good or bad idea? Let’s consider this from various points of view.
The unfortunate loss is that any scheduled overseas trips in June will have to be cancelled! In fact, the opportunity to even go on a staycation would be gone as there will be school, home-based or not, during the June period. Maybe it’s something that you had been planning since the start of the year, or maybe it’s just your yearly getaway to relieve stress – regardless, these dreams to look forward to have to be changed or just simply let go of. Worse still, these plans will probably not be able to be shifted earlier to align with the early May holidays due to the strict rules under the Circuit Breaker period that should be responsibly adhered to.
It isn’t the best news for parents either. For the long, intense period of HBL in the preceding month, parents could be found helping their children in ways like setting up and configuring devices for online educational websites and applications, printing learning materials, ensuring meals are provided conveniently, and even basically acting as a teacher assistant. As such, one might think that this early May holidays will come as a timely break for parents! Sadly, the truth is that parents will likely still not have a complete break. Parents may find themselves still involved in guiding their children with homework meant for the May holidays. Or if the children do not have homework, parents may find it difficult to juggle between working from home, managing household chores and entertaining and accompanying their children during their early holidays.
For students, locked-in holidays will present some challenges to be faced. Without being able to meet up with or go out with friends to reduce stress and tension, students’ mental health might take a toll. Conditions at home may not always be the most conducive or pleasant, and thus this could exacerbate students’ lack of motivation to study. It is not without doubt that some of us find that we can only concentrate and focus when studying with friends or even studying in certain environments like libraries or cafes. Some students may also find it harder to study with the lack of physical meetups like consults with school teachers or tuition lessons. Let’s not forget that those taking the national examinations this year will likely have it extra-hard due to the unfamiliar mandatory changes that they have to adjust to.
But although parents will be very tired from taking care of all their multiple parallel responsibilities without a chance to go abroad or even have a local holiday, the situation can be a blessing in disguise where parents get the valuable opportunity to learn to spend time and bond with their children. It’s never good to neglect our children in spite of a busy work schedule, so this could be an opportune time for parents to take in that realisation and try their best to make the necessary adjustments in their life for the good of the future. We’ve all heard it: Tough times never last, but tough people do. It may seem like the worst to go through right now, but what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.
Not all is lost for students. On the 2nd of May 2020, the Multi-Ministry Taskforce tackling the COVID-19 situation in Singapore has declared that schools are allowed to bring back small groups of students for important physical lessons and consultations. This is particularly targeted at the graduating cohorts (Primary 6, Secondary 4 and 5, Junior College 2 and Pre-University 3 cohorts) taking their respective national examinations this year. The same allowance is also given to Institutes of Higher Learning (IHL) like the Institute of Technical Education (ITE) where students can rest assured they can have a chance to access school facilities for coursework and practical sessions. Not only that, tuition sessions have gone online. This means that students can still seek help for their studies and not worry that they will be left alone. Video conferencing applications allow for students to call and study with their friends too, or maybe just relax and have fun with games together. The online support system stands strong with technology.
Short-term suffering for long-term benefit for the wider community. As PM Lee Hsien Loong wisely addressed the nation, “this short-term pain is to stamp out the virus, protect the health and safety of our loved ones, and allow us to revive our economy.” It is necessary and we all just have to press on; only communal effort will take us further. FamilyTutor wishes you, your family and your friends to be safe during this period!
For your information, the ‘Current Affairs’ series covers the latest news and developments in the realm of education, added with a dash of discussion and a sprinkle of opinion!
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