In the Philippines, there’s an ongoing ruckus about the next movement of education amidst of pandemic crisis. The clashing ideologies of the masses and the higher departments gave way for uncertainties in decision making. What is the best route to take in these desperate times?
Through DepEd’s Lenses
Recently, the Department of Education’s (DepEd) official statement showed that they received a memorandum from the Office of the President. It addressed the implications of the state of Metro Manila and in provinces of Cavite, Laguna, Bulacan, and Rizal, which are all in a Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) when it comes to resume of classes. With the President’s approval of such a recommendation, the classes will continue, from August 4 to October 5, under the Republic Act No. 11480. The expansion of days will be used to provide solutions to logistic limitations and provide enough support for the schools under MECQ. According to DepEd, they trust this will be the last adjustment for school opening and shall be used for necessary preparations to make a successful approach to learning.
Despite the netizens’ protest, DepEd stood firm in resuming classes back when it was decided to continue on August 24. It was planned for the schools to open not in face-to-face learning but into an alternative teaching mode. They devised a plan that will customize schools to adapt to the new situation. It also aims to aid students in adapting more quickly to online and remote learning.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones said, “We can still provide learning opportunities to our students without requiring them to come to school through blended and distance learning.” She also added that it included online classes, printed modules, and lessons delivered on television and radio. When asked for the data where they based their decisions, they implied that they did a survey online to know the variables to consider in implementing alternative learning.
In contrary to most opinions, they disliked the “academic freeze” idea as it will do nothing but disadvantages. The image of the youth stuck in their homes without studying pushed them to resume classes this year. DepEd encouraged the students to continue learning, with their aid, to avoid repercussions for the future.
What are the consequences of school closures?
According to UNESCO, “school closures carry high social and economic costs for people across communities. Their impact, however, is particularly severe for the most vulnerable and marginalized boys and girls and their families.” These include interrupted learning, poor nutrition, confusion and stress to teachers, gaps in childcare, high economic cost, social isolation, etc.
So as a response to the worsening matters in education, Deped insisted on establishing online learning in the hopes of softening the blow. When criticized by the netizens about their decision, Education Secretary Leonor Briones replied, “Got alternatives?”
Through Youth’s Lenses
As a part of the youth myself, I can’t deny that our country’s state doesn’t apply to a motivational environment for learning. The weight of the matter varies depending on the socioeconomic status of a family. The problems are easy to notice since Filipinos never get tired of voicing out their concerns on social media. They wanted to be heard considering how they struggled to survive their new everyday lives in this pandemic.
One of the concerns is the slow internet connection in the Philippines. The Philippines ranked 63rd out of 100 countries in the 2020 Inclusive Internet Index conducted by the UK-based The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) and commissioned by Facebook. The 2020 Index assesses internet availability, affordability, relevance, and readiness using 56 indicators. The fact that DepEd was pushing for the online classes with this matter at hand outraged many Filipinos. The critical factors of active learning can only be achieved through excellent communication. Besides, not all families can afford the monthly plan that stable internet services demand. Relying on prepaid data can be pretty expensive and not worth the cost too.
Due to the extended lockdowns, many families’ businesses and employees were affected. Day by day, the weight of attending to the personal needs of their families outweighed their remaining savings. The scarcity of primary needs was evident, especially in marginalized sectors. Considering this matter, some Filipinos struggle to spend money on gadgets needed for new learning methods. As a result, not all people were catered to access new ways of learning. “No students left behind!”— It has been the screams of the young netizens to express their discontentment in DepEd’s decisions. Is education becoming a privilege than rights?
With the increase of active cases every day, the light to move forward is far from reach. Undeniably, the country’s unruly sight provokes the netizens to prioritize safety first than forcing learning to fit in the picture. As a result, the academic freeze should be an option.
Through My Lenses
If you put both viewpoints in one picture, all of the matters are discussed. But unfortunately, one must prevail than the other. If an academic freeze is implemented, there will be a disadvantage in the economy and the children’s overall development. Same goes with the resume of online classes, education will only be accessible to fortunate people, and the latter will be left behind. It could also shift many burdens to both students and educators. Both have their disadvantages. As for me, an inquiry popped up in my mind:
“Which one has a drawback that we could recover from?”