More than 60 SEN students experience academic failure due to online lessons, study finds

ByMike V. Cooper

Sep 6, 2022

The widely applied online classroom mode has left around 60 per cent of students with special educational needs (SEN) unable to focus on their studies, according to new research, as experts call for more resources to be supported.

In a study interviewing more than 209 secondary school students with SEN and 61 affected teachers, conducted by Youth IDEAS, a think tank of the Federation of Hong Kong Youth Groups, from November last year to June this year , 58.4% of students surveyed said they were having trouble concentrating during online learning, and more than half of them said they couldn’t keep track of their progress. learning.

“About 46.9% of students surveyed said they had no one to help them carry out e-learning at home, while 20.5% said they felt lonely or depressed,” noted the research.

The new college semesters came with a half-day face-to-face course mode with a four-week summer break applied to students in March under the fifth wave of the Covid outbreak, while the final semester s ended around August.

Over the past two years, the city’s education authorities have issued policies repeatedly suspending in-person classes on campus due to disease prevention and social distancing measures.

“There were also around 70% of teachers surveyed who said that the online mode of teaching widens the learning gap between SEN students and others, as well as the lack of reference teaching resources,” says the research.

“More resources need to be provided to SEN students,” said Derren Lam Wai-yip, Deputy Head of Youth IDEAS, calling for a fund set up by education authorities to encourage start-ups and academic organizations in Hong Kong. to promote the teaching program for SEN students.

“It’s better if we can build an online learning platform with schools, parents, non-governmental organizations, etc.,” think tank member Jason Cheung Pak-ning said, “that could integrate opinions and solutions from different sectors to contribute to special education.

SEN students have been particularly hard hit by the impact of the outbreak due to isolation resulting from social distancing measures, said Treats HK, a charity group focused on the social integration of children.

Many of them will become anxious or depressed if they stay home with an irregular daily schedule, especially those with autism, said Lee Ka-shun, the group’s department head.

She called for an effort to organize activities within the framework of current disease prevention measures, such as activities organized in a more open area, and divided the students into small groups to allow them to participate in the community despite the epidemic.

“More likely to support SEN students and reduce their anxiety due to less contact with the community,” Lee said.