April 16, 2024

Much has been said about the decision of the Department of Education to resume classes this year. Some are in favor and some are not, but DepEd’s decision is final. The kids need to keep learning or they will be left behind.
Providing quality education in these uncertain times is not easy. It’s not unusual to hear students hiking mountains and climbing trees to find a reliable Internet signal. Many students cannot afford the needed gadget for their online classes, which means additional sacrifice for their parents or guardians.
Many teachers are going through similar predicaments. A good number of them go beyond their duties to provide their students the time and resources they much deserve.
There’s a huge challenge ahead for all parties; that we are sure of. This is the first time that the country and the rest of the world faced an educational problem brought about by a pandemic. How do we deliver education in these times where students are locked up at home and how do we make sure we are still able to maintain the quality of education delivered?
Online classes. Digital delivery of lessons and courses is not new. In fact, it has been around since the invention of the Internet. The importance of e-learning was amplified at the start of this year when the pandemic forced governments to shut down educational institutions. It’s estimated that more than a billion children are out of the classroom. This is alarming if you look at it with an educator’s perspective.
Despite such alarming figures, there are many reasons to harbor hope. All over the world, there’s a huge surge of investments in education technology. This in turn breeds new models of education. We are seeing these models as governments and educational institutions work hand-in-hand to prevent or at least mitigate the effects of disruption in the delivery of education.
There are a lot of digital tools that educators can use for delivering their lessons. These include emails, language applications, virtual tutoring, video conferencing, and social media chat rooms.
Unfortunately, the Philippines has very unreliable Internet connections and a huge number of students don’t have Internet access. The modular learning system that majority of schools is currently using is a creative solution that seems to be running smoothly for now. It’s a physically-demanding system but be that as it may, it’s the only solution to the country’s lack of digital infrastructure for learners.
However, modular learning may be a good system for now but the country shouldn’t rely on it every time a pandemic or something similar happens. The future is digital. The future is e-learning. The major hurdle for the realization of a completely online-based learning system is the country’s lack of reliable Internet connection and digital infrastructure.
This problem can find a solution if the concerned government agencies join forces with the proper tech companies. It can be done. If other countries can do it, then so can we.
It’s also important that we look outside for ideas and inspiration on how to address educational problems caused by the pandemic. Nearly all countries are having the same educational problems as we are. The solutions they have come up with might also be the solutions we need.
For example, BYJU’S, a Bangalore-based educational technology and online tutoring firm, offered free access to their services. They have announced free live classes in their Think and Learn apps.
Another example is Lark, an online collaboration company based in Singapore that offered teachers and students tools and resources that make e-learning easy and accessible.
The government and agencies overseeing education can’t fix the problems on their own. The private sector also has a role to play.
Education plays a very important role in nation-building. When the quality of education being delivered to the populace takes a hit, the country suffers.
The decision to pursue classes was made despite the seemingly insurmountable challenges and uncertainties ahead. That takes courage and determination. Education has to keep moving forward. If we falter or take a step back because of pandemic-induced uncertainties, we are denying our youths the education they need and deserve.
The future of this nation greatly depends on how well we educate our young folks. Pandemic or not, we need to keep finding ways and solutions on how to deliver quality education to them. — Anthony C. Feliciano, Jr.