Remote learning is merely a supplement, not a solution
The problem with inclusive learning has always been there, both as a product of neglect and corruption. But with a virus lingering about, the administration’s decision to push through remote learning proves how unready and unfit we are to move forward with education. Without a nationalist, mass-oriented, and scientific strategy imposed for this academic year, we do not only give this government a window to escape their responsibilities, but we also put the future of the youth at stake.
Under this pandemic, the condition of education is bleak. Research from both the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) and the Department of Education (DepEd) themselves show an indisputable downward shift of enrollees for the new academic year, thus confirming the anti-poor plans of remote learning as a lacking solution.
The National Union of Students of the Philippines (NUSP) is clear in their stance regarding this issue, stating that being ill-equipped for online classes is not the sole factor holding the students back from enrolling.
Upon a closer look, the issue goes beyond the need for gadgets and internet connectivity. It also lies in the homelife, with both internal and external factors constantly being overlooked by the system since most of these are “out of sight, out of mind” situations.
Aside from the matter of online classes accessibility, there are parents or guardians who do not have the capability to guide their children through modular learning, since most of them have to work to earn income. Parents are forced to compromise their occupation in order to teach, thus denting the financial status of the family.
The case of the parents’ or guardians’ educational levels should also be considered for they may not have the proper knowledge to teach the topics printed in the modules. This lack of proficiency may leave children fending for themselves in terms of schooling.
One way to help us narrow down the correct path is to admit the current plan is flawed. We should face the fact that not every student has a conducive learning environment where they can thrive, and not everyone owns adequate devices that can fully stretch their potential to meet the standards of their institutions.
There is also the case of “silent pandemics”, as accounts of domestic violence rose over the months due to the lockdown. Many were caged in toxic households, most of them are children. A result of the government’s uncalculated planning, which perpetuates exploitation, neglect, and violence caused by the stress buildup from the crisis or the existing dysfunctional dynamics confined in one area. Nevertheless, the disregard for these realities simply causes us to regress instead of progressing us forward.
As our leaders continue to express their detachment from the people through enforcing callous schemes, it should be obvious by now that not everyone can afford to follow through. We must understand, not everyone is dealt with the same cards. The problem of domestic abuse and toxic homes knows no social bounds, and by purposely disregarding these problems, we just further contribute to the academic decay we are so keen to dismantle in the first place.
One way to help us narrow down the correct path is to admit the current plan is flawed. We should face the fact that not every student has a conducive learning environment where they can thrive, and not everyone owns adequate devices that can fully stretch their potential to meet the standards of their institutions. As we do everything to remain afloat while we navigate these detrimental times, we must always make sure to let empathy guide us through.
To provide truly effective education, we must strongly call for mass testing, and pressure this government to adhere to the needs of our medical workers for they are the ones risking their lives in order to tend to the amassing number of COVID-19 positive patients, working exhaustingly without proper compensation and security. It is imperative that their demand for fair treatment should be met aptly, and not with verbal ridicule.
We need to keep in mind as well: pushing an academic freeze only opens a chasm the same as online classes. As a nation burdened with socio-economic deficits, we cannot manage a delay especially in our education. What we need right now is a plan that encompasses all the sectors. One that does not vilify our educators, jeopardizes small or privately-owned schools, and leaves utility workers unemployed. We need a call that discourages the division between the students and the academic workforce.
Our main focus should be the eradication of the virus, not commodifying education to bend to the needs of business. If we genuinely care about our nation’s posterity in the realm of knowledge, we should ensure a safe and secure way to reach a more extensive outcome. Unless the students’ and the teachers’ physical and mental health are taken into account, and their demands are heeded with urgency, only then can we say that no one is truly left behind.