The countless problems that CoVID-19 brought to the life of Filipinos include education. If we have to maintain social distancing, if public gatherings are not allowed, and if the transportation is ridiculously limited, how do we go about with classes without compromising the safety of both the learners and the teachers?
Here is where the public is divided perhaps unevenly – some people are screaming for academic freeze – that this school year (perhaps even the years to follow) be totally skipped. However, the Department of Education or DepEd as well as other government agencies believe that the impact of not having any graduates for a year as well as many different jobs (or projects) being deemed useless or irrelevant would be even more devastating. As a result, DepEd offered other learning delivery modalities aside from face-to-face classes which will certainly not happen this year. The department also offered modular learning paired with TV and radio broadcasting and online learning. Numerous webinars were held to prepare the teachers for the major changes in education both from the Department of Education as well as other agencies, institutions, and organizations.
The Division of Aklan announced that we will be having the modular learning delivery mode because almost all of the learners (elementary and secondary) do not have the gadgets and internet connectivity which are needed for online classes.
After it has been decided, all resources were focused to the modules that we will need. Although the schools have funds for the MOOE or Maintenance and Other Operating Expenses, it is just not enough to cover all the needs in the reproduction of the learning modules. It needs to be distributed 1:1 ratio to the learners. Each module is good for one week so the funds are definitely insufficient. Teachers, including me, had to ask for donations from everybody whom we feel may help us – I asked for donations from government officials, from business establishments, from my former classmates (even my former college professor), my friends, and my relatives. There were even times when I had to shell out money from my own pocket. Believe me when I say that it was so embarrassing not because I am asking for help. I don’t mind that at all because it is for the learners, after all. I was embarrassed because I know that all those people whom I asked for donations also suffered because of the pandemic. That is why I will always be grateful to those who helped me and to those who were honest enough to tell me that they just can’t help me even if they wanted to.
In our school, two teachers share a printer. We are cramming because in a few weeks, classes will officially start and the week 1 modules must be distributed. We actually had a dry run last week. On Monday, the parents and guardians went to school to get the week 1 modules. Then, they returned the modules on Friday morning. Sadly, one of my students’ parents didn’t get the modules so I personally delivered the modules. His father was there so I told him that he needs to return his son’s modules on Friday. I was surprised because the student himself returned the modules and told me that he wasn’t able to answer all the modules. Even though we were taking the necessary precautions, I had to ask him to go home right away because he is a minor and as of now, anybody who is younger than 21 and older than 59 is not allowed to go outside the house.
The required 2 sets of notebooks is yet another additional burden to parents. Instead of the usual 1 notebook required for each subject, now they need to provide 2 so they can leave one set for us to check the learners’ answers as they write their answer to the current week’s modules on the second set of notebooks. One of my students actually had only 2 notebooks that he divided into 4 subjects each.
As of the moment, we are running low on printer ink and the price of bond papers increased by at least 40% which is really sad.
I just hope and pray that somehow, we will be able to deliver high quality education even amidst this pandemic.