PdPR: Challenging for everyone involved

KUALA LUMPUR – Implementation of the home-based Teaching and Learning (PdPR) for students nationwide is seen a challenge, not only for parents, but also teachers and students in having to face various issues.

A teacher at a school in Putrajaya said the attendance of online classes among students from the ‘back classes” is quite low.

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“For example, the attendance of students from the first class is 24 people out of a total of 27, while the attendance among students from the back classes is six out of 19 people. Students who are good will survive and the weak will continue to be left behind.

“At school, teachers can call students face to face and motivate them, but when the class is conducted online, it depends on the students themselves, their preparation in terms of gadgets, data plan and self-motivation, ” he said when contacted today.

The teacher, who declined to be named, said, other challenge of online classes is the problem of monitoring the students’ discipline and focus on their studies.

He claimed there are students who opened two windows or applications on their laptop screen – one for online class and the other to play ‘online games’.

Unable to focus

For Form Three student of a school in Selangor, Syakir Fazly, 15, the challenge of studying at home is not being able to focus on his lessons as his siblings often make noise and disturb him when he is having his online classes.

“It is difficult for me to listen to the teacher and other students. When a student has a question, the teacher just continues to teach because the teacher could not hear the question and the student’s voice.

“Apart from that, not everything that is taught by the teacher can be clearly understood because the telephone screen is small. The link provided by the teacher is always difficult to access,” he added.

A private sector employee, Shahidah Musa, who is in her late 30s and has children attending Year One and Two in Selangor, said there were teachers who were inconsistent and kept changing the social media platforms and mediums in handling their PdPR classes.

“There are times the teacher uses the WhatsApp platform, then switch to Telegram. The learning medium also changes… from the Zoom app to Google Meet and video calls.

“Apart from that, the time the class starts also keep changing. The first day, it was at 9.30 am, the second day at 10 am. Parents have to always wait for information and updates from teachers,” she added.

Parents had to learn too

Shahidah, who had bought mobile phones for her children to facilitate their PDPR learning, said there are parents who have to ‘learn’ Google classroom applications and so on to enable them to help their children with the assignments or homework, especially those that require them to record videos.

Businesswoman Norazah Muda, 49, said her youngest son, who is supposed to enter Form One at a private religious residential school in Negeri Sembilan, has yet to start his PdPR lesson.

“I am worried about buying him a mobile phone or laptop because based on my experience during the Movement Control Order (MCO) last year, I found him very obsessed with video games and even shopped online when he had access to the gadget,” she added.

Norazah said during the MCO last year, her son used her handphone to follow the PdPR lesson and do his homework.

Hairunnisak Aman, 39, of Johor, who has children aged six, eight and 10, said PdPR not only demands high discipline of students, but parents also have to play their role to ensure their children are focused.

“It is quite challenging because it requires a high level of commitment to participate in the ‘Google Meet’, ‘Google Classroom’, Telegram, WhatsApp sessions, for three children who are all in primary school at the same time.

“However, for now, I can still find time to monitor them,” said the food caterer when contacted.

One phone for five siblings

Meanwhile in Kota Bharu, since the school session began last Sunday, five siblings from a poor family here is only equipped with one smartphone, which belongs to their mother, to study via teaching and learning at home (PdPR).

Hasyani Mat Jusoh, 42, said her family is among the poor who are finding it a great challenge in adapting to online learning which starts from 8 am to 12.30 noon on school days.

She said as there is only one smartphone at their disposal, her five children aged between six and 15 had to take turns to complete their school work.

“It is a tough situation trying to figure out how to provide for my children in order not to disrupt their online learning as my husband is an odd job worker with no fixed income.

“At times my children will cry from frustration after having to wait too long for their turn on the gadget,” Hasyani said when met at her house in Kampung Sri Kulim Melor here today.

“On top of that I have to worry over my medical treatment, ” said Hasyani who was diagnosed with stage two colon cancer two years ago.

The slow internet connection was also a snag so the internet plan had to be upgraded, she said adding that a RM30 reload was needed each week.

According to Hasyani since the Movement Control Order (MCO) was enforced, her phone had broken down twice and had to be sent for repair.

At such Hasyani who is currently undergoing chemotherapy treatment at Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital (HRPZ II) and physiotherapy at the Mahligai Health Clinic is hopeful that someone would be sympathetic to her family’s plight.

“I would be be grateful if my children can be provided with two smartphones to cope with their PdPR session. This is sufficient to make online learning easier for them,” she added.

Challenging

There have been complaints on unsatisfactory Internet access and the price of communication gadgets such as smartphones and tabs, which are quite expensive, particularly for the less affordable, especially for those in Sabah.

A nurse, Norliani Mahadi, 43, said Internet access and gadgets are two interdependent factors to ensure a smooth online learning perfect as the process will be disrupted if one is not available.

Norliani, whose 10-year-old child is following the PdPR sessions, said it is common knowledge that Internet access in Sabah is not at a satisfactory level, especially in the rural areas, while Internet packages are still not at an affordable level, especially for the B40 group.

“There is no point of buying expensive or sophisticated gadgets of any kind if the Internet access is problematic as then it is not possible to do PdPR sessions.

“Then again if the internet access is good but the price of gadgets is too expensive, people cannot afford them and the PdPR sessions still cannot go on. All these factors need to be taken into account,” she told Bernama here.

Not effective

Another nurse, Amrata Kumbayat, 46, said her four children, aged eight to 19, have smartphones to enable them to follow the PdPR sessions, but feels the effectiveness of the method cannot beat face-to-face learning.

“But now with COVID-19 spreading, we have no choice, but to implement the PdPR sessions. Therefore, the facilities need to be provided and everything must be affordable for all groups because we want to provide education for everyone,” she said.

She said apart from the challenges of providing the necessary tools, parents, especially those who work in the front line, like herself, need to divide their time (between work and family) to help their children’s PdPR process and ensure that the Internet and gadgets are used properly for learning.

Form four student Amir Ariq Danie Amir Hasan, 16, said it is a challenge for him to follow PdPR as he just moved to a new school from Lahad Datu to Kota Kinabalu this year.

“If we want to study well, we have to get to see our teachers and friends. With the PdPR, it is not the same as meeting them face to face. Hopefully, I can meet everyone after COVID-19,” he said.

Increased sale

Meanwhile, a telecommunications equipment store supervisor Geeryleon Alimus, 23, said the shop’s staff and himself are currently busy facilitating the way for parents to purchase suitable mobile phones and Internet packages according to their budget.

“Many parents buy phones for their children at a price of around RM400. We sell (handphones) suitable for their children to follow PdPR sessions. If they have a bigger budget then we suggest ones that have more functions and greater Internet quota,” he said.

Edmund Johnson, 39, a computer shop salesman here, admitted that sales of tabs on the premises have increased by up to 75 per cent since the PdPR was implemented and most of the tab buyers at the outlet are parents.

He said the store also provided second-hand computers, laptops and tabs for sale to parents with limited budgets.

“Indeed, many parents buy according to their budgets. The important thing is to have a webcam, WiFi or other functions. We will suggest which items are suitable and we will help them as best as we can,” he added.