I graduated from my Bachelor’s degree in 2019. To think in only a span of a year, our education system would excessively change the way it did, is an understatement. I cannot even begin to imagine my school years in a time of this pandemic, taking away the fundamental aspects of what made school an important and memorable part of my life.
The look and feel of our classrooms, the uniforms we do not always want to wear, the loudness of chatter before the teacher comes, the after school bonding with friends, going to malls, eating out — all seem so distant in the past that it is hard to remember just a year ago, those were all perfectly normal.
Today, online classes, classmates and friends connected virtually but are alone physically, is the new normal.
The sudden shift in our education is hard enough considering the fact that it took away everything we knew about it. But to top that, the preparedness of our country to take on this shift to online platforms is also quite questionable.
Education Secretary Leonor Briones has recently announced the moving of this school year to October 5 after questions on the government’s preparedness have continuously surfaced. But the postponement is only that unless the government actually acts more on the very real and tangible problems that are being faced with this new normal.
Since public request on having an academic freeze does not seem to be the solution the government is considering, then proper preparedness is vital to assure that the level of education we give to the youth today does not downgrade.
First of all things to look into is the accessibility of online education to all —especially for the marginalized sectors.
Does everyone have access to reliable electricity and internet sources? If so, how do we address this to assure every student is given the right to education in this time?
Secondly, do we have a clear, organized, and systemized learning management system? Do teachers, administrators, and students all understand how grade performances are assessed? Do we have a clear system of how this works? Because clearly, one can see that giving quizzes, homework. and grades could definitely not be the same as before.
Lastly, do we have an appropriate curriculum that best suits online learning? What type of curriculum could we impose that would maximize learning to our students online?
I can only imagine the live role play projects, reporting, and educational games I had in high school would need a bit of tweaking to work online.
Of course, the complete revamping of our education system just like anything, takes time. But what we really need to ask is the government’s willingness to do so, and if yes, how high of a priority is education in their list?
With sustaining livelihood and healthcare, education should also be at the top. Students today should not get any lesser of an education. After all, education is the foundation of our society — knowledge. Understanding one’s rights, navigating around society, having a steady source of livelihood, lessening hunger and poverty all begins by having education.
Even before the pandemic, our education system has had very big gaps to fill. Now, those gaps have perhaps even doubled. Not only do we still face the lack of educational means, we also are now facing great uncertainty of the route we are taking. At least before, we had an established system somehow, but now, everything calls for a complete revamp. With this, how do we respond?
Most importantly, we have to ask if our government through its actions, sees education as a privileged rather than a right during this time?
As a general reminder, education is a basic human right that should be accessible to each and every Filipino regardless of our setup today.
If education is indeed a right, then the burden of having it should never fall on those who want it. It should be a system already organized and properly secured for them to access.
What education really does is mount the foundations of our society. It produces individuals who are capable to radical thinking, becoming contributors to the building of our nation, and eventually help alleviate the country and its people. Education is everything that moves society forwards. Therefore, the accessibility and quality of it should not suffer. And so, are we ready in October?