Today, October 5th is the opening of classes for school year 2020-2021 here in the Philippines, after two postponements. The traditional school opening really happens every month of June, and since there’s a huge adjustment this year because of the pandemic, it has been delayed. It was set to open on the third week of August, however, a lot of difficulties were encountered beforehand, like lack of strategy and preparedness among the teachers, students and most of all, the education department itself. So it was postponed and moved again today. But the question is, are the schools really ready for the new normal way of providing education to all the learners? Are the Filipino students and teachers ready for this new transition of learning? Does the Philippines have enough resources to provide the quality education in the midst of pandemic? Well, I don’t think so.
Education sector is one of the most affected by COVID19 crisis, so face to face learning is being set aside to ensure the safety of the students, teachers and all school personnel. The Education department made a transition from conventional face-to-face learning to blended type of learning, which include online distant learning, modular learning and the use of television and radio-based instructions. However, there are challenges along the way in implementing the blended learning. For online classes, not all students are capable to acquire gadgets like computer, laptop, tablet or cellphone and to provide internet subscriptions. Many poverty stricken students and those who live in the remote area where internet connection is far possible, will be at a disadvantage. Not to mention the expensive and poor internet services in the country, which is one of the lowest in world ranking in terms of internet speed. Teachers also suffer too much in this learning transition. Many of our teachers are already in their late age and yet, still need to adapt the use of ICT, a big adjustment for them. Also, some teachers need to distribute modules in the most remote area where their students reside, some need to cross rivers and some need to climb mountains just to deliver the learning materials to their students. Their sacrifices is beyond our imagination.
As I watched news tonight, upon opening of classes, a lot of challenges faced by both teachers and students were reported. There were teachers who climbed the roof of their school just to have internet signal for their class orientation. Some students also set their own learning area at the top of the mountain also to get internet signal. And that happened just now, the first day of class. I don’t know what will happen in the upcoming days and months. I hope the government provide programs to address the difficulties of this new normal way of learning.
As a teacher myself, it’s heart melting seeing our youth suffer while getting the education they deserve. And very disappointing watching my brothers and sisters in the field of education profession treating by some like nothing that their sacrifices in teaching are not giving importance. In this time of pandemic, the support of everybody especially those in the government for our education system is most needed, so no one, student or teacher is being left behind.