Reflections & Reports from the ground – EXCEL Learning Centre
Excel has 84 students from L7 to L11 in 2021. Though we only had physical classes from February to April and then reopened from October to December 2021. It has been an eventful year. The classes went virtual when the lockdown was implemented. Though there were several difficulties, most of the students cooperated with the teachers and learnt as much as they could. The lack of social interaction and the long period of staring at the screen drained the teachers and students psychologically and affected their motivation in teaching and learning.
Excel is not only concerned with academic studies but also provides holistic education in an environment that brings joy and warmth. Excel is a place the students can look forward to coming because they know they are accepted, loved and they can learn to become a whole person. We are glad that most students attended regular Online classes, and all were so happy to come back for physical classes.
Even during the lockdown, we had various online projects with education institutions to expose our youths to interact with students from other countries and learn skills for life. The students participated in various workshops run by different educational institutions during this period. We had 3 workshops with Ngee An Polytechnic – ICT in March, Health Science and Film/Media in September. In these workshops, they interacted with students from Ngee Ann and mutually shared with
each other their respective cultures, learned various skills like communicative skills, presentation skills, First Aid and Family Planning and the use of various social media skills, cyberbullying and many other things.
The students also participated in AIESEC workshops in August and September organized by Sunway University in their project of Empowering Equalities with the objectives of developing communicative skills, confidence in public speaking, awareness of Sustainable Development Goals especially SDG 10.2 Reducing Inequalities. Other activities included workshops and seminars organized by UCSI like Peace and Unity Youth Online, Teens Celebration for World Environment Day June 4, and Sustainable Living and Permaculture on 26 June. The latest is the World Soil Day Competition where students were given the awareness of the importance of preserving soil health for the good of human beings, all living beings and our planet.
It was so good to see the students coming back to school and to see their joy and laughter. The teachers too were back with enthusiasm to make up for the long absence of face-to-face teaching and not seeing their students. It was so difficult to remind them to keep physical distancing as they had so many things to share with one another. Within a short time, they were back to the activities that they had enjoyed before and continuing their usual routine of duties to keep their school clean and attractive. All the activities in school are to engage them in learning responsibilities, taking ownership of the school and practising cooperation and collaboration with one another and experiencing the joy of learning.
Dr Chong from the Public Health Department gave a talk on the importance of vaccination on 24 October 2021 to all the students. All of them had their first dose of vaccination on the school premises on 26 October . Their second dose was on 23 November. ElShaddai Centre also a Child Protection talk to explain what child abuse and what action is to take if such incidents take place.
Zara* (name changed)
Hi, my name is Zara* and I’m 16 years old this year. I flew to Malaysia from Myanmar when my grandma passed away and I came to live with my uncle as I don’t have other relatives in Myanmar. I ran away when I was 15 because my uncle forced me to get married and to go back to Myanmar. Today I’m staying at the Elshaddai Centre girls’ shelter and I study at their school.
Since young, my dream is to be a policewoman and to help those in need. To achieve this, I need to have a proper education. I face challenges such as a lack of self-confidence and the urge to give up this dream. But now this has changed when I receive help from UNHCR and ElShaddai Centre. I now have a place to stay, free education and other needs such as receiving counselling. I have no worries as Elshaddai Centre has provided me with all the things I need. Through them, I not only have a chance to study, I also have a chance to go to be relocated to another country. Now I am waiting for my time to go to Australia. And maybe in the future, I will have the chance to actually be a policewoman. I’m thankful to all who have helped me along my journey here in Malaysia.
I attended YEP GO Online workshop at home this year. It was full of fun and the most interesting and interactive session I ever had this year. I learned so much more than I expected. I learned about the human body and the cultures of others. Most importantly, I learned about stress faced by many especially during this lockdown. I believe not many know how to tackle it. We learned how to deal and cope with stress. It was a great experience!