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Haze in Singapore and how you can benefit from it ?

Haze: danger or opportunity?

The recent haze in Singapore has caught the city-state off guard. While haze situation occurs almost every year, this one is unprecedented, with the IPS reading climbing as high as over 400 in the range of “hazardous”. The little red dot has turned grey. Because the haze is pervading the air all over Singapore, people who are outdoor are mostly affected. One group that is particularly vulnerable to the pollution is students, who have to commute from homes to schools for lessons and school activities. The young age of this group certainly makes them even less immune to respiratory diseases. As a result, the Ministry of Education has called the ceasing of all school activities during the June vocation and has postponed the start of the next semester to July.

Singapore Haze

From ChannelnewsAsia


A different lesson

While school lessons have been postponed, some other lesson can be carried out. It is the lesson that can be considered as part of the national education. The crisis always brings out the best and the worst of a society and parents can take this opportunity to discuss with their children the social issues arising from the haze. Should the government issue a stop-work order, especially to those constantly working outdoor such as construction workers and national servicemen? How should Singapore deal with the diplomatic relations with Indonesia? Are Singaporeans overreacting? How would you deal with people who resell hoarded masks at exorbitant prices if you encountered them on the street? Now is a perfect time to cultivate the awareness of citizenship in young students. Moreover, as parents, you may want to bring your children to many online forums, such as the Sgthinker and the Onlinecitizen, which offer diverse views on issues stemming from the crisis. Some analyses are sensible and inspiring, while some others are emotional and offer little logical thinking. It’s great exposure to social discourse and a good training for your children to decipher wrong arguments and think on their own feet. If you do not believe that a good student is only one who excels in exams and CCAs, but is also capable of independent thinking and judgment, take the haze as an opportunity to start preparing your children to be informed citizens in the future.

Distance learning

Moreover, the crisis highlights another important aspect of modern education: distance learning. Many schools are experimenting with teaching and assessment over the Internet. Many institutions conduct home-based learning over one week to get students used to e-learning and receive feedback on improvement. As Singapore is a small country, any disaster, natural or man-made, is likely to have nation-wide impact. The SARS in early 2000 was a good example of how students across country were confined behind the door of their house. Hence it is important that students are accustomed to e-learning. The present problem with e-learning on the side of students is that they are not taking it as seriously as classroom learning. Sitting in front of a computer screen, students may get distracted by the family environment or things like Facebook. Quizzes are often taken with some sort of “cheating”, by getting answers either from friends or from Google. In a word, the quality of learning over the Internet is not comparable to the learning in classroom. Parents may play a part in creating a better environment for learning at home. Make sure all irrelevant windows on your child’s computer are closed, turn down the volume of your television and so on. If parents are treating Internet learning seriously, they are going to send signal to their children that computer isn’t just for games and social networking sites.

Keep fit

While outdoor activities are discouraged, parents may not want their children to be physically inactive at home. A gym or indoor stadium near your house is a great place to go. Travelling is indeed needed, but exposure to haze for a short time will not have obvious and serious effect on health, unless the person is unhealthy in the first place. Or else climbing the stairs of your building is a viable alternative, if the stairs are secluded from outdoor air. If you and your children have the habit of exercising, you should all the more maintain it. Don’t let the haze disrupt too much of your life.   In Chinese, a crisis is called Wei Ji(??). It is literally translated as “danger and opportunity”. There is opportunity in every danger. The author is trying to offer a few opportunities that parents and students may not realize. There are definitely more to seize. If not for anything else, when people are staying longer at home, we as a nation may be rediscovering an often overlooked benefit: more family time.

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