As classes opened on Oct. 5, Department of Education (DepEd) Secretary Leonor Briones celebrated the first day of blended learning methods by declaring victory over the pandemic.
“We declare our victory over COVID-19—the destroyer of our lives and destroyer of our economy and of our society. But we will not allow COVID-19 to destroy our children’s education and their future,” Briones said. “Today, we open our schools. Today, we claim victory over the destroyer. Let our classes begin!”
Although Briones has since clarified that her remarks were directed towards the proponents of an academic freeze for the school year, teachers and students have listed all the reasons why the secretary’s remark left a bad taste in everyone’s mouth—no matter the context.
Nimfa David, school principal of Caloocan City Business High School, noted that a common concern for teachers and students alike was the poor internet connection and parents trying to familiarize themselves with new learning platforms. Students have been unable to finish classes, while teachers have either been late or missed their scheduled classes entirely.
Aside from adjusting to the challenges of online learning, teachers have also had to shoulder expenses for mobile data allocation or Wi-Fi connection. Although DepEd announced that they will be accepting applications for a connectivity allowance, the department has yet to announce how much the teachers would receive.
Student groups have also pointed out that distance learning methods aren’t accessible to everyone. Prior to the opening of classes, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) cited low enrollment rates as a reason to implement an academic freeze for the school year.
“If 12 million students were left behind during the enrollment process alone, how many more stand to lose out in the months ahead? What use is a continuous yet low-quality and inaccessible form of education when our own future is at stake?” their statement reads.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) pointed out that, due to low enrollment rates, a number of schools have had to close down and a lot of workers have lost their jobs.
“Can we consider this a victory? In spite of the millions of students who begged off from studying because they cannot cope with the new demands of distance education, even with a lot of workers losing their jobs because of school closures, can we consider this a victory?” said CEGP deputy secretary-general Regina Tolentino.
Header photo by Chris Quintana for Inquirer.net
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Writer: ANGELA PATRICIA SUACILLO