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EDITORIAL: Sprouting Like Mushrooms

Tall and thin poles now dubbed as a gadget for home WiFi are sprouting like mushrooms in remote villages. They cater to the needs of students caused by the internet scheme to meet requirements for online studies. The gadget is more popularly known as piso WiFi.

At first impulse the initiative looks a welcome development. Children find a substitute opportunity to develop a brighter future for being internet savvy, notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic that is hounding the entire world. The problem becomes more real particularly in areas not regularly serviced by internet providers. At least at the moment the headache among education officials and parents is temporarily solved.

But the sight of school children trooping to the online site offered by enterprising parties is causing alarm considering that kids who make use of the WiFi facility for a fee are not properly supervised in order that the minimum health protocols like wearing of face mask and face shield, as well as observing physical distancing are observed. As a consequence, the innocent kids become super spreaders of virus innocently.

That is why the initiative of education officials and local government units for boldly conducting learning activities in a face to face manner is worthy of encouragement. It is gathered that in Naga City the schools located in the villages of San Isidro and Panicuason are targeted for experimental activity.

Truth to tell, resort to the online conduct of school activities cannot be considered as an effective substitute to face to face learning, for a number of reasons.

For one the very purpose of conducting online learning is negated by the vey situation obtaining, given that the learning activities are not efficiently supervised by competent school authorities. This means that in the conduct of home learning activities, there is no guarantee at all of an honest-to-goodness learning process by school kids without intervention of parents or privately hired tutors, so that school assignments are exposed to the prospect of being accomplished not by students themselves but by parents or tutors for hire.

Also of major concern is the danger that because of limited WiFi facilities providers, school children are left no choice but gather in a crowded manner within the surroundings of the WiFi site, thereby exposing themselves to being infected by the Covid-19 virus without them noticing it at all. On the other hand, conducting face to face school activities, may even be less exposed to the spread of the dreaded malaise.

For sure teachers who are being looked up to as second parents can impose authority upon the school kids because they have the capacity to enforce compliance of the minimum health protocols. Something that entrepreneurs providing WiFi services cannot exercise. What is important for them is to generate income from the sales of services. Besides, WiFi facility providers are usually store owners. Such being the case they are more profit oriented. Obviously they will not spare a single centavo just to employ somebody to enforce the health protocols.

Note that right at the home WiFi site there are even no chairs or tables for the purpose of making the atmosphere more comfortable and less exposed to being infected by the deadly virus. In this regard, it would be most ideal if the online learning activities are placed under the supervision of school authorities, subject to observance of the minimum health requirements.

But then school officials need to be equipped with proper authority to acquire supervisory power over the learning process right at the WiFi area. Something that is not easy to attain given that WiFi sites are purely private in character and they cannot the compelled to submit themselves to the supervision and control of school authorities.

To make things more workable, it might be more practical that home WiFi facility providers are required to register themselves with the schools concerned within their area of influence. That is not an easy option. It would even be more expensive to the students and parents because the home WiFi facility providers will find a way out in order to charge a higher rate for the services rendered.

In the end it would mean burdening further the already over burdened parents. Better to resume face to face learning activities.


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