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“I Miss My Students.

“I Miss My Students."

By Judy Makori; Senior Writer MOHI on Oct 22, 2020 3:07:00 PM

“I miss my students. Nothing can replace that face-to-face interaction. We need to see them in class. School is just not the same without them.” These are the heartfelt sentiments from teacher Elkana Khamana of Missions of Hope International (MOHI) Gitathuru center.

While grades 4, 8 and 12 resumed school earlier this month, the remaining grade levels are still being engaged through distance learning.

DSC03232Elkana teaches mathematics, science and Swahili to the grade seven class and has been a teacher for the past six years. He tells me that while he has been doing everything within his power to stay in-touch with his students, this has not been without its challenges.

Elkana says there are those pupils who take the initiative and come to school to collect revision papers. Others are quite active on the WhatsApp platform and will submit assignments on time. Then there are those who will come to the school to seek him out when they need assistance on a specific subject.

Elkana also notes that he misses the in-person student-teachert bond. He says it is this bond that helps him create a relationship with each of his students which in turn enables him to understand what they need.

“Every child is unique and they have their own areas of gifting. Some come from very difficult homes and need a lot of encouragement just to focus on their studies.” he says.

His sentiments are echoed by Eric Ochieng who is a Spiritual Development Officer (SDO) at the school. Eric bemoans the fact that the spiritual programs calendar has been affected due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

SDO Eric Ochieng 2“We use WhatsApp and home visits to follow-up on our pupils but it is simply not the same,” he says. “Having them with us physically is so much better because then we are able to better monitor them. The group activities we organise also provide a refreshing way to learn more about God and grow in their faith. We are really praying for them and look forward to having our pupils back in school.”

Elkana says the greatest challenge he foresees once schools fully resume will be the issue of physical distancing.

“School is so much more than what happens in the classroom. The activities they engage in during play time or when they participate in inter-school competitions equip them with essential skills that cannot be taught in class,” he says noting that teachers and the administration alike will need to work together to find creative ways to ensure no aspect of learning is affected.

Both Elkana and Eric agree that the children are much better off in school. They agree that all staff will need to embrace alternative ways of ensuring their department’s objectives are met while meeting the stringent regulations by government. They are however, confident that MOHI is working to ensure all centers are ready to fully open.

“I can hardly wait to stand in front of my class, chalk in hand, interacting with my pupils one-on-one and also engaging with them outside the classroom set-up,” Elkana says smiling brightly.