Sharing Lockdown Experiences at the 6th ASEAN Children’s Forum

December 2020

When the Circuit Breaker went into effect in April, 12-year-old Ayisy Zakir found himself struggling to adapt. 

He missed his friends and routine and, thrown off by an unfamiliar medium, was unable to grasp online lessons. With the PSLE just six months away, he worried about being able to keep up. Quarrels with his five siblings sharing the family’s laptops did not help the situation.

On 13 October, the 12-year-old from Student Care @ Children’s Society was among the 34 participants from 10 ASEAN countries who spoke about how COVID-19 impacted them, and discussed the current situation for children at the 6th ASEAN Children’s Forum. The half-day event was held over Zoom.

The ASEAN Children’s Forum is a platform for children to gather and share their thoughts on issues directly or indirectly affecting their lives. It aims to promote friendship and mutual respect among children from different cultural backgrounds. It also serves to hone their leadership and collaborative skills as they work together as a team.

This year’s forum was hosted by the Ministry of Social Affairs, Veterans and Youth Rehabilitation (MoSVY) of the Kingdom of Cambodia. 

(from left to right) Haiman, Ayisy, and Nurul at the virtual 6th ASEAN Children’s Forum

Two other students from Student Care @ Children’s Society, Nurul Zahratul and Haiman Razin, both 12, also participated in the forum.  
Nurul shared some of the positive aspects of being at home. Picking up new skills such as baking and dancing, as well as spending more time with her family, were some of the things she was grateful for.  

However, she, too, noted the challenges, including the presence of distractions such as phones and television, and that not every child had adequate supervision or the support of an adult who could provide homework help. Unfamiliarity with the designated platforms was something else that caused frustration and stress among students, she said, getting in the way of submitting assignments, for example. 

Haiman offered some of the team’s recommendations to mitigate the cons of home-based learning, including a mental health platform where children could share their worries, more conducive communal study environments with proper supervision and guidance, and internet access. 

Financial assistance to families in need would ensure that their children can continue their education without worry, he added.

All three students found the experience both enjoyable and rewarding. “It was fun to work with our adult mentors, Mr Joses from the Advocacy and Research department and Ms Maya from Student Care @ Children’s Society,” says Ayisy. “During our brainstorming sessions, we shared our ideas with one another and prepared the presentation together.” 

For the students, the forum was an opportunity to meet their peers from across the region and gain a taste of how they, too, can play a part in shaping the world they inhabit.

“This forum was a wonderful opportunity for our children to learn the value of contributing to a global platform and realising that there is a world outside of what they know. It was really heart-warming seeing them rise to the occasion and share their thoughts,” shared Ms Maya, one of the two adult mentors to the child participants. 

Click here to read the story in Chinese.

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