By: Sammy Y. Sabello, Teacher II, COBNHS-JHS
The pandemic represents a rare but narrow opportunity to reflect, reimagine and reset our education.
As Philippines fought against COVID-19 pandemic, so as the whole world. It stood still as many businesses shut down, travels restrained, and education halted. Reasonably, our government needed to seek alternative means to continue learning of our students amid the pandemic. Yet, it became unlikely, as a matter of fact, deadly, to conduct face-to-face classes because of the fleeting spread of the virus.
Expectedly, as resilient as we are even in the past, our situation led us to think of other ways to continue education, and that is by means of utilizing e-learning as an advent of a more accessible technology. Though some teachers already flipped their classrooms even before the pandemic, not only it became trendy, but also turned out to be a necessity. Administrators, policy makers, curricularists and other specialists may say that this pandemic gave way to innovations in education, but, at what stake?
Not every student has access to gadgets that could be used for remote learning. This was the primary concern, besides parents who had to teach them after coming home from work, and the mental distress they experienced caused by isolation from people outside to control the virus from spreading. This also caused teachers tremendous shock of absorbing the “new normal” of teaching. They were pushed to their limits: financially, mentally, and physically. They were given two choices only. Either teachers had to buy laptops and other gadgets, upgrade their internet access, purchase or avail promos of educational apps and tools beyond their meager salary to teach online or, like sentinels, they had to be deployed in schools or even in barangays to distribute modules in which they were promised to be ready on time, yet they were also the ones to print and produce in the end. This has gone for more than two years.
But as our situation became lighter, limited face-to-face classes with social distancing protocols along with countermeasures such as temperature scanners and proper hygiene practices was imposed to continue the much-needed education once again. But another problem arises: within those two years, it was discovered that children did not develop to their age-appropriate proficiency level especially in literacy and numeracy. As Robert Jenkins, UNICEF Chief of Education stated, “While the disruptions to learning must end, just reopening schools is not enough. Students need intensive support to recover lost education. Schools must also go beyond places of learning to rebuild children’s mental and physical health, social development and nutrition.” And this is the reality that we must face together, head on.
In conclusion, we may say that the pandemic gave rise to innovations and advancements in the educational system. We may also say that family relationships even grow fonder. Still, the end-users who are our students, must endure most of the consequences. Nevertheless, the pandemic is no one’s fault, and education must not be compromised. It may sound an ambitious goal to overcome the learning losses at this time, but we can still transform our perspectives to adjust to the demands of our instructional practice to recover these losses. To our policy makers and education specialists, you may consider developing the curriculum to match what our learners really need. And for us teachers, we must thrive, maintain the grit at the core, sustain a sense of motivation and commitment despite the challenges of this pandemic and feeling a sense of hope for our future.