UNPRECEDENTED. Over a billion children worldwide are out of the classroom. The COVID-19 has resulted in schools shut all across the world. There are more than 1.2 billion children in 186 countries affected by school closures. In the Philippines alone, if school opening is further delayed this school year, private schools nationwide are bracing for an estimated revenue loss of Php 55 billion, and may shoot up to P142 billion if classes do not open at all. About 16 percent elementary and high school students are in private schools and 54 percent of college students are in private colleges and universities. Aside from students, school personnel are also affected. There are 400,000 teachers, faculty, and non-teaching staff in private schools all over the country. They are either on reduced pay or no pay at all because of work stoppage while under quarantine.
Meanwhile, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) is spearheading the task to provide free WiFi in schools as the country’s learning system prepares to shift to a new normal. Education has changed dramatically, with the rise of online learning, whereby teaching is conducted remotely and on digital platforms. According to Sec. Greg Honasan II, his department is working closely with DepEd, CHED, SUCs, private schools and Telcos for the prompt installation and deployment of free WiFi service. In-person classes have been prohibited in compliance of President Duterte’s directive until a vaccine is available.
Adapting to this new normal even the biggest and oldest private universities in Central Luzon, Holy Angel University and Angeles University Foundation will apply the modes of instruction to online or a combination of online and in-person or classes on campus and will not increase tuition and other school fees for SY 2020-2021. To cushion the impact, the Systems Plus College Foundation in Angeles City will provide free Smart pocket WiFi device, free modular compressed in a 16GB flash drive and printed module materials. Students can avail Acer laptops at discounted prices payable in 10 months for basic education, four months for college, and no tuition increase, according to Dr. Irene Mae Manabat.
Former congressman Francis Blueboy Nepomuceno, who co-chaired the house committee on higher and technical education, said “Online learning has been shown to increase retention of information, and take less time. However, he expressed doubts citing unreliable and unstable internet connectivity in the country. While some schools, local governments and celebrities have been providing laptops and tablets to students in need, many are still concerned that the pandemic will widen the gap.” Civic and academe leader Veejay Tanglao also expressed his apprehensions saying, “Students won’t learn a lot in online classes, I prefer in-person classes but if the school of my kids decide it’s the only option then I have to bite the bullet, on the other hand it’s scary to hold in-person classes without the COVID19 vaccine. At least online class is better than our kids doing nothing.”
Uncertainties. Retired US Navy Master Chief June “The Judge” Centeno, a brilliant analyst and eloquent resource speaker pointed out, “While some believe that the rapid move to online learning will result in a poor user experience that is unconducive to sustained growth, while others believe that a new hybrid model of education will emerge, with significant benefits.” He further added, “There are challenges to overcome. Without a reliable internet access and technology students will struggle to participate in online learning, this gap is seen across countries and between the privileged and disadvantaged backgrounds.” Retired US Navy Senior Chief Arnel “The Expert” Cauguiran, father of award-winning journalist Cate Cauguiran ABC7 Chicago, explained “Is learning online as effective? For those who do have internet access, there is proof that learning online can be more effective in a number of ways. Research shows that on average, students retain 25-60% of their lessons when learning online compared to only 8-10% in a classroom. Students learn faster and online learning requires 40-60% less time to learn than in the four walls of the classroom because students can learn at their own pace, going back and re-reading, skipping, or accelerating as they choose.”
Undaunted. Madam Mara Tara Clemente of Sto. Rosario Elementary School, one of the hardworking and multi-awarded principals of Angeles City, shared her thoughts, “COVID19 pandemic created changes in our educational system and setting. First, the Deped compressed the most essential learning competencies relevant to our daily living. The emotional, mental, physical, aesthetic, social and spiritual (EMPASS) aspects of a learner are emphasized in all programs, activities and projects. Second, change in modalities on how to deliver the teaching and learning processes. We will adapt a blended learning scheme by using online platforms, radio, television, and also printed modules, which are pre-existing methods and were already used for decades. This pandemic created enormous adjustments to all schools, teachers, learners and parents being the partners and linkage of their children’s learning process.” Being a parent herself Madam Clemente instilled to her daughter Alta Maria the value of education. She added, “Let us unite and act collectively to overcome this pandemic so as to pursue the education of our children and make their dreams come true.”
From online classes, roll calls, recitations, exams to online graduations, we must accept and embrace this new normal as dynamic human beings and in a positive outlook we are fortunate this sudden impact affected our lives this period in human history where we use computer and other advanced technology devices as medium of communication otherwise it would be the day the earth stood still.
Our sincerest gratitude to the benevolent Chevalier School “Caballeros” Sindyan Tane Batch ’87, ’88 and ’92 for the food packages (rice, noodles, sardines) and face masks intended to families heavily affected by the COVID19 pandemic in various barangays of Mabalacat City, Pampanga. Batch ’87 Bgy Chairman Jomer Ong, Anthony Decena, Ronald Miguel, James Alonzo, Veejay Tanglao, Joseph Dizon, Councilor Dr. Cocoy Tiglao, Councilor Oliver Dwight Morales of Batch ’88 and Richard Morales of Batch ’92. It is equally important to express thanks to other generous donors: Luis Salta Razon, Jojo Taruc Triskelion, Larry Carlos CDC external affairs office, Charles Vincent Sarmiento manager St Louie Memorial Chapel, Mario Pangilinan area manager Pelco-Mabalacat, Gil Lim manager 729 real estate management and general services, and Gana family of Bgy. Mabiga. If you’re interested to help and share your blessings please call or text Mr. Gerard Dayrit 09227618570 .
Aaron Salas Tanhueco: “Nice…congrats Kong Mark for your 1st column “Using DNA to solve crimes”. Looking forward to more informative articles and news.”