by Ben Schmidt, Regional Director Southeast Asia and Pacific at Cambridge International.
As the COVID-19 dust settles, society is now facing even more significant challenges such as inflation and the loss of livelihood. Another area that brings much apprehension is the reintegration and educational development of our younger generation after nearly two years of remote learning,
Just recently, a report by the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF, UK government Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO), USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation revealed that learning poverty has increased by a third in low- and middle-income countries, with an estimated 70% of 10-year-olds unable to understand simple written text. The numbers were significantly higher than the 57% estimated rate before the pandemic.
Undeniably, without solid foundational skills, children are unlikely to acquire the technical and higher-order thinking skills needed to thrive in increasingly demanding industries that are now highly influenced by digital adoption. In Malaysia, schools are reopening with the aim to support the development of these desirable skills among learners. While remote and online learning will continue to play a valuable role, many schools recognise the benefits of physical learning in creating a conducive environment for deep knowledge acquisition alongside the development of social skills through interactions with peers and teachers.
Also, with the reopening of schools, it is important to remind ourselves that nothing is more important than the wellbeing of its students. This is why Cambridge provides progressive support from an early age to help students develop emotional literacy and resilience throughout their school life. We recognise the importance of different forms of assessment for Cambridge Primary and Lower Secondary learners who are often capable of so much more in the classroom than they are allowed to demonstrate in an assessment.
Cambridge Progression Test are designed to help minimise unease when sitting for tests. They are taken in a classroom environment and are part of the regular teaching and learning process. They provide schools with valuable student performance data while assisting them in preparing for the more formal Checkpoint Tests.
Meanwhile, the Checkpoint Test, a summative assessment marked by Cambridge, is done more formally to produce comprehensive diagnostic reports for a student's progress and external validation of the teaching and learning that has taken place.
When asked about the Progression and Checkpoint Tests, Dr Choong Foong Hiam, a teacher at Austin Heights International School shared: "At Austin Heights International School, the teachers plan and teach based on the Checkpoint Test curriculum and formats. This method has helped the learners to adjust their own learning with more specific skills and targets. By keeping them informed on their progress through a series of Progression Test and Checkpoint Test reinforcement exercises, the learners were also seen to be more engaging, often active in seeking guidance from teachers. This way, teachers will also have the opportunity to provide personalised guidance to learners based on their strengths and weaknesses."
The newly launched Wellbeing Check from Cambridge CEM is a quick and intuitive, student-led digital assessment developed using research from the University of Cambridge. It helps schools to identify areas where students are feeling good and doing well, and when they need additional support.
While tests ensure a structured educational development for the learners, it is also worth noting that the learner's mental health was also affected during the pandemic. Based on the findings from the National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2019, 7.9% of children between 5 to 15 years of age, were found to have mental health problems, a rise from the findings previously done in 2015.
At Cambridge International, prioritising wellbeing in a time of disruption and transition is vital. Throughout the pandemic Cambridge has provided schools with support to promote open and supportive conversations around mental health issues, but what can parents do at home to support their child on this journey back to normality?
Acknowledge - that these times are unprecedented can be helpful in making sure you are not pushing your child too hard.
Listen - It may not be realistic to expect your child to settle straight back into the rigorous timetable of the school day, so allow them to pause, speak to their friends and refocus their attention gradually.
Share - a good home-school relationship is even more important at this time. A good way to help your child to feel more prepared is to share the school's plan for the rest of the term or semester. Children often find it helpful to know the order of topics so that they can seek out good resources to prepare and revise content.
Reflect - Ask them to tell you about what they liked or did not like about learning from home during the pandemic and ask them to share how they felt. Reflect with them on whether any techniques seemed to work more effectively and why this may be.
Chuah Chung Peng, a parent from Austin Heights International School, elaborated: The transition from digital learning to physical classes has been smooth for my child. During the pandemic, I paid a lot of attention to my child's learning. I often listen attentively to the online classes and was perceptive towards her actions, as children have their own unique language. As parents, it is vital to communicate with your children, as it allows us to better understand their problems, personal issues, insecurities and potential."
By measuring that the learners have a safe and structured environment, in both educational and mental aspects, only then can we begin bridging the gaps from the pandemic and look to a brighter future for our younger generation.
About Cambridge Assessment International Education
Cambridge Assessment International Education prepares students for life, helping them develop an informed curiosity and a lasting passion for learning. We are part of the University of Cambridge.
Our Cambridge Pathway gives students a clear path for educational success from ages 5 to 19. Schools can shape the curriculum around how they want students to learn - with a wide range of subjects and flexible ways to offer them. It helps students to discover new abilities and a wider world, and gives them the skills they need for life, so they can achieve at school, university and work.
Cambridge International is the short name of Cambridge Assessment International Education.
Learn more! Visit www.cambridgeinternational.org
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