One hundred fifty-two million students in the region were forced to shift to remote and online learning when the COVID-19 pandemic led to prolonged school closures.
Eight children share how they coped with this abrupt transition and what they liked or disliked about their virtual classes.
Arkin Yeshua B. Aznar, 15
“Eskwela” is the Filipino term for school. Education is a vital part of our lives since, through education, we can enhance our knowledge, enrich our skills, and make ourselves ready to overcome future hurdles life may bring. However, the traditional “eskwela” suddenly turned into an “e-skwela.”
Before, I usually woke up at five in the morning to prepare myself for a whole day of learning at school. Then, from 7 AM to 5 PM, I would attend classes, have lectures and tests, and spend time with my friends. Right now, here I am, in front of my laptop all day long, attending video conferences, having online tests, and doing my requirements. It was hard to adapt to it at first, but as time went by, I adapted to online learning.
Online learning helped me learn things at my own pace. Also, we have more access to information about the different topics we need to learn. However, distractions are inevitable while learning in our homes. No or slow internet connection, insufficient electronic gadgets, background noise, a lack of resources and a dedicated study area are the most common concerns that hinder a smooth online learning experience. Lastly, we miss our friends, our teachers, and the joy of physical learning.
In the Philippines, we are starting to have physical classes after two whole years of online learning. As physical classes return, I hope that they can be mixed with the advancements of online learning. I wish that more students would go to school, enrich their skills, enhance their wisdom, and continue to dream for a better future.
Heni Putri Lestari, 15
I must admit that online learning does have its pros and cons. As a student, I know how it feels to attend online learning. Maybe, for some of the students, they enjoy doing it. But there are also a few who don’t.
What I like about online learning is that I can access my assignments everywhere, as long as I’ve got the internet. Also I can do other things such as eating at the same time because if it’s offline, we can’t eat in the class, right?
However, I still don’t like a few things about online learning. I easily get distracted when I’m not interested in the topics, and also it’s online learning, I can get bored, so I don’t pay attention to the class. I also get distracted when the (internet) signal is bad because I can’t hear the teachers clearly. Meanwhile, if it’s offline, I can be more focused because I pay attention to the teachers. Even for the topics I don’t like, I still try to focus.
During the pandemic, I can only attend online classes and other school and extracurricular activities are restricted.
Extracurricular activities can be one of the best places for me and my friends to spend time together while improving our skills based on interests.
Belinda Averina Jasman, 17
What I really like about at-home learning is that I do not get myself exhausted, and the same thing goes for my parents. I have a weak immune system and gastric problems. I have a tight schedule outside school as a ballerina and performer, so I always get invitations to perform, and also I am learning to be a ballet teacher. I cannot drive a motorcycle yet, so my parents are the ones who drive me often to school and to my ballet studio. They are getting old, so with at-home learning, I can help them as much as I can. I have a little brother who has Down Syndrome. So, when my parents are super busy taking care of our motorcycle workshop, I help them with house chores, taking care of my little brother, and workshop stuff.
Now, what I do not like about at-home learning is I cannot concentrate on the lessons while helping my parents and taking care of my little brother because housework will always keep coming. Then, I don’t get to see my friends, although we can call each other through WhatsApp. The social interaction does not feel “real” because we cannot meet up with each other physically and I cannot meet my teachers physically.
Vazkya Kayyisa Dachlan, 10
My life changed since the COVID-19 pandemic started in Indonesia at the beginning of March 2020. The school closed during the pandemic. Our class shifted to virtual classes, and the school hours were shorter. It made me sad as I loved school very much. During the pandemic, I could not see my teachers nor play with friends, and I stayed at home most of the time. The pandemic forced us to wear a mask and carry hand sanitiser when going outside the home.
However, virtual learning also has a brighter side. For example, I did not have to wake up early in the morning for school. As a result, I had more time to do homework and play with my baby brother at home.
Beverly Pray Manurung, 12
The pandemic lasted a very long time, and when it started, I was still ten years old. From March to July 2020, I was still in formal school and still studied with the teacher, but at home and online. We called it PJJ (Pembelajaran Jarak Jauh) or long distance learning.
What I like about doing formal school at home is that I have more free time, no extracurriculars, and I don’t need to worry about being late for school. I have more free time to do things that I love, like riding my bicycle, playing with the cat, and using gadgets.
All the extracurricular was dismissed during PJJ, so I don’t have to do the dance-extracurricular. I never have to come late to school. I usually wake up at 5 AM every day, get ready and go to school at 6 or 6.15 AM, because I don’t want to be late. On PJJ, school still started at 7 AM, so I don’t even have to wake up so early anymore.
What I dislike about formal school at home is whenever there was a lag sometimes on Zoom or Google Meet, I couldn’t understand what the teacher was saying. About the lag, maybe it depended on the signal or internet connection that I used, or what the teacher used. Sometimes, after getting disconnected, I could not get in anymore. If the connection was bad, I could not hear or understand what the teacher was saying. Then, there was a lot of homework.
In July 2020, I started homeschooling with my mother and we do this until now.
Gloria Skolastika, 9
The coronavirus cannot be seen by humans, humans are afraid of the coronavirus. But many have recovered from the coronavirus disease, that’s because doctors and nurses have helped us.
Because of the coronavirus, we can’t go anywhere. Every time we leave the house, we must wear a mask, wash our hands and keep our distance. If we have the coronavirus disease, we have to stay at home. Because of coronavirus now, we have to go to school and do all activities at home.
All countries on this earth have been fighting the coronavirus disease since the beginning of 2020 until now. This coronavirus, it seems that it will continue and coexist with humans around the world. This is what is called the new normal, where we must avoid crowds, wear masks and wash hands. I am in grade 3 doing school activities through Google Meet and there are always problems when schooling at home.
At home school, the internet always cuts off, and school at home is very boring and I couldn’t focus. Assignments must also be taken with photos or videos and I cannot play with friends. In the end, I play games and watch YouTube more than play with friends.
My hope is that with the vaccines, I hope that coronavirus will pass quickly, so that we can go to school as usual again, and all humans will not be exposed to the virus and everyone in this world can live normally like before.
Abraham Kenoly Blezz Manurung, 10
The good thing about learning from home is there is no need to wear buttoned shirts, no need to wake up early, no need to rush to school, and I can instantly change clothes after (classes are) done.
I don’t like buttoned shirts because it’s uncomfortable, school uniforms are buttoned shirts. At least I don’t have to wear it for a long time. I like knee-length shorts because they are short. When using Zoom, I wear a uniform on top, and my shorts that were covered by the desk.
Before, school started at 7 AM so I had to wake up at 5.30 AM to eat breakfast, take a bath and get ready for school. Now, I just wake up at 6.30 AM.
I don’t need a car. I don’t like the smell of gasoline; it makes me dizzy. No need to rush to school and not it only takes 20 seconds to get to my desk. Before, when school is done, I had to wait until my parents pick me up, but no need for that now.
The bad thing about learning from home is time feels slower. It also makes me more shy when meeting people. Time feels slower because of the boredom. I have several friends at my regular school, but now I don’t like meeting people I don’t know.
Siti Nur Khasanah, 16
The thing that I liked about online learning is that using cellphones or laptops makes it easier for students to send assignments because they only need to press the send button, and assignments can be sent to the teacher. Students have more free time to do assignments, which means they can study optimally without having to be in a hurry because they have a lot of time at home.
Students can explore information related to lessons at school through references or sources available on smartphones. Students can set their own learning model that is appropriate (for them). For example, watching educational videos or animated videos related to subject matters at school makes it easier for students to learn.
There are students who don’t like the online learning system. Sometimes, some students don’t have smartphones or laptops, so online learning is not fun for them.
In certain areas, they also experience network connection problems that can have a bad impact on online learning. Online learning also causes a decrease in students’ social activities because most of them prefer to leave online classes, perhaps by watching movies or playing games. Very few students actively ask the teacher if there are difficulties in understanding the lessons, or consult the teacher if there is a problem.
Everything in the world has its good and bad. Likewise, with online learning. As the nation’s next generation, we must be able to learn lessons from online learning because it is a government policy that must be obeyed so that we can stop the spread of COVID-19. So, keep the spirit and follow health protocols.
Note: The children featured in this section submitted their written responses and photographs to The ASEAN with the consent of their parents/guardians. The submissions were received between June-July 2022 and edited lightly for clarity.