by Alyssa Yu

This article is inspired by the sharing session during ladies’ fellowship on 23 May.

MCO caught many of us off guard.

People panic-buying to stock up the essentials at home. People buying boxes of masks and dozens of hand sanitizers despite these items being overpriced. Working adults packing their things from offices and students packing their clothes from their hostels to get home before the movement control order takes effect. Everyone fearing the unknown.

I remember this day very clearly. It was two weeks from our trial examination and seven weeks from our final A-Levels examination. It was the 12 March and we were supposed to have a mathematics test. My friend and I were on our way to class when she received a message saying two students from each class must go to the teacher’s office to get our trial papers. We were pretty speechless, though we did talk about wanting trials to be postponed or canceled as we were not prepared for it, but when this happened, we felt empty and lost. When we reached the office, we saw lecturers and students running around, stacks of trial papers everywhere – on the table, on the cupboard, on the chairs, it was a mess. We looked around for our lecturers and finally managed to get hold of them. They were pretty calm when they talked to us. They explained to us that they heard the news of possible lockdown, thus, they wanted to distribute all the trial papers before the college closes down. Deep down, we knew that they were scared as none of us has ever experienced such a thing before in our lives. One of our lecturers even said, “see you when I see you.” We never got to see each again till this day and our course has ended.

Then, it was officially announced: the whole of Malaysia will be facing a partial lockdown starting from the 18 March. We received a new study plan, we will have our home-based trial examination the following week, followed by three weeks of discussion and online classes, then one week vacation and another week of consultation period (no online classes). At that time, they still planned to have face-to-face examination for A-level students as this course is 100% exam-based, so we cannot replace our examination by doing coursework as some other courses did.

Our lecturers, some grey-haired, had to figure out how to teach students online. They must have had a hard time figuring out since they are not as tech-savvy as the younger generation. But all of them still managed to find their way to us online.

While they taught all their students online, some through Zoom, one of the younger lecturers through YouTube live, they also had to prepare for the worst-case scenario, which is to have a home-based examination, something they have never done before. If it happens, they have to come up with ways to ensure that the whole examination is fair and that they are able to authenticate that the students’ answers are completed without any aid. While having to crack their head for this matter, they had to deal with students’ concerns and complaints too. While they themselves do not know what would happen, they still had to deal with students who kept asking them every day about how our examination would take place because all they care about is whether or not they can stop studying. Someone even started a petition to not have our examination on campus.

Then MCO was extended again and again, and face-to-face examinations were not allowed. In a few weeks’ time, they had to come up with something to test the students, instead of the usual Cambridge test papers. Eventually, they did and I can say that they put in a lot of effort. They
thought thoroughly to ensure that it was fair for every student. They did better than every other college who just gave their papers to their students and asked them to submit within a specific time limit. They made sure we joined the video call with a lecturer invigilating the whole session, turned on our webcam and put it at an angle where they can see our workspace, us, and the other device we used to view the exam paper so that they can truly authenticate our work. Being concerned about students not knowing how to do certain things, they took matters upon themselves and became YouTubers for us! They recorded tutorials of themselves, showing us how our workspace should be like, how we are supposed to submit our papers, how to scan the papers, etc. and uploaded it on YouTube. Also, to make sure
that we fully understand the whole procedure, they organized a few trial runs the week before the examination took place.

In less than two months’ time, they had to continue teaching us through online platforms, figure out ways to carry out our yearend examination fairly, solve students’ technical issues even though they are so far away,
come out with guidelines, tutorial videos and questions for the online examinations and face complaining students and fulfill their needs. Really, I can only list a few things they had to go through but I’m sure they went
through so much more. Not to mention, they’re all normal humans who have their own families to take care of too.

After listening to the sharing of other sisters who are working in this field as educators, it hits me even more, to be grateful to all teachers. The things they had to go through, like having to be ready for calls and emails 24/7, having to face the consequences of having fewer students, having to brainstorm ways to attract students to attend classes which they spent so much time trying to set up and so much more, are just so stressful and burdensome, while we students only had to attend classes in the comfort of our homes. Even so, some of us still skipped classes and waste their
efforts in making online classes possible.

I just want to say, thank you, to all of the teachers who had to work even harder to meet students’ needs during this time of crisis. We, students, are blessed to have someone like you who cares so much about us even though we often take you for granted. Not to forget all the preachers, teachers, and others who have made online bible classes, worships, monthly meetings, ladies’ fellowships, and Sunday school classes possible. Keep it up, brethren, knowing that your labour in the Lord is not in vain.