Covid-19 impacts education, too
Published on: Saturday, February 15, 2020
By: Ricardo Unto
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Thien (second right) shows the interface of the online learning system as Wong (left) and others look on.
Kota Kinabalu: The novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak is causing major disruption not only to the tourism sector and other related industries but also affecting a wide range of others, including education.

Thien Tze Lin, a freshman in Xi’an Jiaotong University (XJTU), just like other Sabahan undergraduates in Chinese universities, were forced to stay at home a little longer before they can return to their classrooms.

“I came back home on Jan 8 and initially planned to go back to XJTU on Feb 12,” she told a press conference here, Friday.

However, Thien, who is majoring in International Trade and Business, could not resume her studies at XJTU due to the escalating Covid-19 situation in China.

“Furthermore, the province where my university is situated is close to Hubei Province.”

Noting the difficulties faced by students to resume their studies, most learning institutions in China, including XJTU, have adopted online learning system.

“For my course, the trial run was conducted on Tuesday. The system was in place before but it was not really perfect, so now they are in the process of perfecting it.

“Previously, the system was used mostly by exchange students who cannot attend lessons in lecture halls,” she said.

Even though it is more flexible for her to learn, she still needs time to adapt to the new learning environment.

“The lecturers give live lessons, but he or she cannot observe our reaction, and if we have questions, we have to ask them through messaging applications or after the lesson is completed.

“There are 17 students in my batch now and all of them are international students, some are from Russia, South Korea, Japan and Vietnam, among others.

“Another notable issue for the students are the time difference between XJTU and their countries. 

“However, the live lessons are recorded…so students can re-watch each session.

“Another constraint is the assessment of subjects which involves practical activities like sports. That is why XJTU has decided to defer practical assessment to a later time – after we return to campus.”

Thien, who is now staying in Keningau, was glad that the Internet connectivity at her home is good.

“So far, the Internet line is good. Furthermore, lecture notes in text are also provided for each online video lesson,” she said.

Recently, it was reported that traditional bricks and mortar schools in China are now exploring online education options as authorities postpone the new semester until the middle of this month or even into early March.

China’s Education Ministry had also issued a statement last Thursday, encouraging schools to use Internet platforms as an alternative way of teaching students amid the suspension of the new semester.

The Ministry was also reported of planning to launch a national Internet cloud classroom on Feb 17, providing a full range of teaching materials and courses for students from the first grade in junior school to the third grade of high school.

Sabah Chinese Alumni Association President Wong Koh Hin welcomed the initiatives taken by China’s learning institutions.

“There are 154 students from Sabah under us currently studying in China.

“This association was established about two years ago to look after the wellbeing and welfare of students registered under us.”

Meanwhile, Wong expressed gratitude to philanthropist Datuk Francis Liew for his monetary contribution for the purpose of assisting the efforts of handling Covid-19.

“He (Liew) bought a painting drawn by an association member and the money will be summed together with the funds raised by the association to be channelled to the relevant body,” he said.


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