ACADEMIC BREAK IN THIS TIME OF PANDEMIC
The prompt action of Baguio officials to the urgent call of students from higher educational institutions in the city for a respite from the demands of online learning is an indication that our leaders acknowledge the concerns of the youth, who are the hope of the fatherland.
We commend our city officials for spearheading last week a meeting among school administrators and other education stakeholders to tackle the appeal of students from Saint Louis University, University of the Cordilleras, University of Baguio, and University of the Philippines Baguio for an academic break to ease the pressures of fulfilling the requirements of their courses.
The meeting has provided parties a venue to ventilate their concerns.
The call for an academic break is valid. There indeed is a need to allow the learners to pause so they can compose themselves and attend to other equally important matters in their lives. Imagine a student with 24 units load and have to beat the deadline of all his eight courses at the same time. This leaves the learner no space to digest the lessons and will only end up complying, not learning.
We recognize that this remote learning setup, which educational institutions were forced to adopt because of the pandemic, is taking its toll on the learners in all levels.
This is also a time for instructors who bask in the idea that making the course requirements complicated is a good way of instilling discipline among the learners, or they are competent educators if their students can hardly cope with the demands of their subjects.
In these trying times, when everyone is trying to survive, compassion is needed.
After all, compassion is one attribute that makes human beings distinct from the artificial intelligence we have employed to help us connect with others at a time when we have to forego physical interactions if only to keep each other safe from the threats of the Covid-19.
On the other hand, the students should understand that school administrators and teachers are doing their best to make the online learning setup as efficient as the face-to-face learning.
Just as the students are having a hard time with the current system, so are the teachers who are working hard to make their instructional materials relevant for the learners.
If the students think they are given tons of requirements to comply, the teachers too have loads of work to do, including evaluating the submissions of their students and at times following up and waiting for those who may need more time to accomplish the requirements.
Here’s what the students should also understand: Teachers too are accountable to the institution they work for. They also have deadlines to meet. They must submit their students’ grades on a certain period within the academic calendar.
This is why the academic break, while admittedly a must, should not mean the students can abandon their responsibilities. They still need to comply with what their courses require of them.
Their call for respite must not also mean the institution should sacrifice the quality of education the students deserve. There are standards to be met when complying with academic requirements.
We also call on students to exercise caution when issuing statements that attribute a person’s death to the pressure of complying with academic requirements.
Blaming someone else’s death on an academic institution on the premise that school requirements are solely the reason is dangerous, irresponsible, and unfair.
While the solitude brought about by the online learning setup may be a factor, there may be other reasons that trigger anxiety and depression among students.
We are not disregarding the feeling of isolation suffered by some students. These are also valid concerns that schools should not brush aside.
At the very least, we want to reassure the learners that their teachers, school administrators, and other stakeholders are not closing their ears to their pleas in relation to the difficulties they encounter in complying with their academic requirements; they just have to continue reaching out to them.