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Lhenie Mae shares her experience on the new normal of learning

Lhenie Mae, 13, a Grade 8 student shares with us the struggles she has to face right now in learning and her determination to finish her studies despite the situation.

What are your thoughts about the new normal of learning?

To be honest, I’m worried. I don’t know if I can keep up with the lessons because I don’t have a gadget that I can use to search online for assignments or tasks that I find hard to understand. I also miss my classmates already. The new normal of learning is entirely different from what I am used to.

What part of blended learning (online and module) do you find the most difficult?

There’s no one at home to help me with answering the modules, that’s the most challenging part. My father and I live together now because my mother and other siblings are in Manila; my father has to work so we are able to eat. He wasn’t fortunate enough to afford to go to school during his younger years so it’s just me who answers my modules. Since I can’t afford to buy a mobile phone or laptop to help me search for difficult topics, I just answer what I can understand and leave the rest blank or empty. I only answer what I know instead of guessing because I know my guesses are also wrong.

How about asking for help from your friends on searching for those topics that you don’t understand?

As much as possible, I don’t want to bother my friends or classmates because I know they are also having a hard time answering the modules. And the internet connection in the area is also not stable, so they are also facing their battles in this new normal of learning.

Have you tried asking your family if maybe you could buy a cellphone or gadget that you can use for learning?

Yes, I already tried. But my father is right. He would instead work to have something to eat or food to get by for days rather than spending money to buy a cellphone or a laptop. He lost his full time job because of the pandemic and hasn’t had any permanent work since then. When he earns money (occasionally), we use the money to buy food. We don’t have any savings for gadgets or the internet, food and basic needs are our top priorities right now.

If you compare the learning set up to before and now, which setup do you consider yourself to be more motivated to learn?

I was more motivated before when there were face-to-face classes. Before, owning a personal phone was not a priority gadget or tool for learning. But at present, it is a must; and sadly, I don’t have one. The modules require more researching online, connecting to the internet, so a gadget and internet connection are priorities. But personally, I can’t prioritise it over our basic needs at home.

Do you have contact with your teachers? For the retrieval of your modules, how do you know that it’s time for submission?

We have a schedule, every Monday we go to the designated area in our community to retrieve and submit our modules. But when I’m already answering the modules and don’t understand a part or chapter, I have no choice but to leave it blank. I don’t have communication with the teacher, and I don’t have a phone and internet connection.

If given a chance to ask for help for young children like you regarding your education, what support would you like to ask for?

I need an electrical gadget and internet connection. During this pandemic, I have realised that having a mobile phone is essential not only to learning but also for communication with my family. Since we don’t have a phone, we can’t contact our family in Manila.

If there is something positive that you learned or realised despite the situation, what is it?

I still have my father from whom I get the strength and courage to continue studying. If not for him, I might end up dropping out of school. I want to work hard so I can finish my studies because that is his dream for me. He wants me to graduate college and have a good life, and I want to fulfill that dream.

What advice would you like to give to girls like you who are also dreamers themselves?

Let’s stay strong during this pandemic. Don’t ever think of giving up; you have to endure everything that’s happening right now because I know this too shall end, and we will all have better lives. We just have to carry on.

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