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Education in a Pandemic

By Katherine Marfal-Teves

With mandatory physical distancing being implemented, and with no Covid-19 vaccine in sight, the impending school year continues to be a hot topic among parents for the past couple of weeks. Education must go on, but how do we pull through as a nation? This is the huge challenge that the Department of Education (DepEd), along with teachers, parents, and students, is facing amid the surge of Covid-19 cases. 

While the DepEd has already announced that the school year 2020-2021 will open on Aug. 24, some teachers, parents, and other concerned agencies have expressed their concerns over the decision. Last May 25, President Duterte announced that he would not allow classes to start this school year until a vaccine was available. But presidential spokesperson Harry Roque cleared that the enrollment in public schools would proceed on June 1, and the decision whether physical classes would resume or not, would depend on the situation as it would unfold by then.

children education

There are various modes of learning that are being presented and considered, but whatever we will be doing for this year will most likely be new to everyone.

We are crossing into uncharted territories this time, and we will have to navigate through the new ways of educating our children. 

So, if you’re a parent, or a guardian, you will definitely look for the most appropriate and most viable modes of learning there is. Here are four options to consider.

  1. Homeschool learning

This is not new to many progressive parents. This type of learning requires more intense parent involvement, as they will facilitate the learning at home, using age-appropriate modules and learning materials.

Some of the advantages noted in this type of learning are more family time, personalized learning approach, which includes real-life lessons, and a more flexible schedule. Disadvantages, however, are also present. There is less social interaction for the children, for instance, and it is time-consuming for the parents, and the kids are faced with the possibility of being idle, if not properly supervised by parents. 

Celebrity couple Doug and Cheska Kramer have chosen this mode of education for their three kids, so they can spend more quality time as a family. In one of her Instagram posts, Cheska shared, “The struggle is real! And so is the fulfillment we have with each and every milestone we make.”

In homeschooling your children, you need to have a space conducive for learning. In the absence of a traditional classroom, parents have to design a makeshift classroom, complete with learning resources, to motivate your children to learn. Parents must also allot a significant number of hours in a day to teach their children. 

kids education

2. Online or distance learning

This mode of learning requires the intervention of technology and parental guidance and support as well. DepEd has partnered with telecommunication companies to launch DepEd Commons, an online study platform, which can be accessed by both private and public schools. 

“In this time of crisis, it is important that we make it possible to overcome this challenge with solid partnerships with the private sector. We are thankful for our partners’ generosity in support of the continuity of public education by providing us free data for DepEd Commons access amid the Covid-19 situation,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said.

The access to the online platform is free, but you need an internet connection to access the link outside the platform. As you navigate the website, you need to fill out certain fields, like the name of the school, your child’s name, and grade level, among others.

This online platform consists of review resources and Open Educational Resources (OER) authored by public school teachers who are experts on various subjects. Teachers have options “to retain, reuse, revise, remix, and redistribute the content by blending it with a learning management system to deliver a distance learning modality.”

Based on data released on April 20, 2020, DepEd Commons has recorded 4,236,667 users accessing the online platform, since the start of the Enhanced Community Quarantine (ECQ). This number is projected to increase in the weeks to come. The platform integrates Globe eLibrary, an online platform that contains age-appropriate e-books ranging from storybooks for children and young adults to textbooks on core subjects such as Math, Science, English, Filipino, Music, and Arts.

Private schools have also started conducting online learning sessions via Zoom wherein they follow specific learning modules every day. Students and teachers can see each other through a video conference while they are guided by their parents.

3. Radio and TV-based learning interventions

For those areas with limited internet connectivity and lack of access to computers, radio, and TV-based interventions are being explored. This mode of learning aims to deliver lessons through radio and television. The door-to-door delivery of worksheets, take-home learning activity sheets, and portfolio completions are also being figured out for students in remote areas.

4. Blended Learning

This combines face-to-face and online learning. Depending on the outcome of the government’s campaign against the pandemic, this mode of learning may or may not be implemented.

Aside from virtual classes that include webinars, one-on-one coaching, modular learning, online assessment, blended learning also employs face-to-face classes, which put students and teachers at risk of getting infected by the virus. 

While online and homeschool learning proves to be the safest modes amid the perils of Covid-19, challenges such as students who don’t have computers and internet connectivity at home and parents who are not equipped or have no time to teach their children at home become hurdles to make any of these a choice of many. 

The government has been vocal that there is not enough budget to provide learning devices and internet connectivity to all students. On May 28, DepEd announced that they would be giving printed modules to students who lacked learning devices. At present, they are still exploring alternative options to continue education, especially for public school students. 

Education is indeed an essential activity that must not be put on hold. With the joint movement of the government and its agencies, local government units, teachers, and parents, we can rise to these educational challenges with flying colors.

*Katherine Marfal-Teves is a freelance writer, aspiring children’s story book writer, and full-time homemaker.


Source: Manila Bulletin (https://lifestyle.mb.com.ph/2020/06/08/education-in-a-pandemic/)

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