Effect of the pandemic to learners
By Cristina Montes-Buquid
Based on the recent assessments and/or evaluation from the authorities, the onslaught of the pandemic from COVID-19 caused the so called learning poverty among the children who used to be in school. Simply stated, a large number of school children find it hard to read or understand simple story. Most of the students in elementary level accordingly failed to meet the minimum proficiency in the basic subjects. This somehow will likely affect them when they hurdle the secondary level and struggle to cope with the demand of the secondary curriculum.
When the government thru its education branch was able to design a program such as the distance learning, the noble intention was to address the need for continuity of education despite the presence of the pandemic. However, no matter how noble the intention is, apparently, we cannot discount the fact that somehow, there is a disadvantageous effect to the learners as well as to the teachers, school administration and the parents.
The modular and the online system of education or a combination of the same can temporarily resolve the issue of how to proceed with the schooling during the said pandemic. Nonetheless, there can be no substitute to the face to face or in-person learning The children under the said program were deprived of the most important factor of learning. That is, interaction and socialization. When this are not present in the learning process, children are likely to experience the lack of confidence. Thus, they lost their drive to learn and become introvert or unable to participate in classroom activities even to outdoor as studies revealed.
The saddest part is the forced closure of some school due to the absence of the enrollees and financial difficulties in running its operation. This had likewise added to the dilemma of learning as the children had nothing to learn from academics during the intervening period. The momentum of learning was abruptly cut.
Nevertheless, the distance learning was the best possible solution at that time if only to address the education disruption. We can be optimistic as we should be and as expected from us. After all, the decisive intention is for the future of our children and the educational system and its quality not to be compromise by the pandemic.
In the Philippines alone, the situation of education that was catered by the distance learning was generally successful. This is because it received the full support of the people. It may not be perfect yet we remain triumphant in our battle against the negative impact to the educational system and eventually to the school learners.
The government remains committed to the mandate that education should always be a priority. Therefore it must receive the full support of the people more importantly to programs that are primarily intended to raise the quality of education. This is because children as a product of quality education are the pillars of our economy and good governance.
Thus, while we struggle to formulate policies that are appropriate to the situation during the Covid-19 pandemic, the authorities at the other side of the government such as the Department of Health (DOH) and its partner agencies are doing their best to eradicate the pandemic. The requirements of vaccination and the continued observance of health protocols remains the paramount objective. It appeared so far as successful when almost all of the populace were vaccinated and obtained the desired herd immunity.
This had opened up opportunity for the Philippine system of education to finally return to the old normal. Some schools had finally opened but gradually reconstructing piece by piece the lost system of learning. But to the school children, the traumatic experience of depriving them of the normal activities appropriate to their age and learning level will linger. This is another challenge on the part of the parents and teachers in regaining the children’s normal consciousness as it was before. At least a program to debrief the children must likewise be develop and integrated in the curriculum or homeroom activities. Further, the need to create more activities inside and outside classroom for the children to get out of the trauma brought about by the pandemic must also be considered.
Let us all give credit to the Philippine education system as they remains unbroken amidst the threat of the global health crisis. However, the success of the alternative program designed by the authorities at the height of the pandemic can be best attributed to the teachers who are at the forefront. They must be given the accolade for their undying commitment given the limited resources as to time, materials and in encouraging their students to actively participate and appreciate the new normal in education. This is because a large percentage of the students at that time are on the verge of dropping-out despite the distance learning method. The fear of creating an out-of-school youth is imminent then but this was however avoided due to the persistent encouragement of the teachers.
Kudos also to the parents who put the situation together despite the fact that the learning of their children during the pandemic, had stretched their financial resources and emotion as well as their mental agility. The effort to hurdle educational distress will not come into full realization had it not for the parents support and commitment. Their vision to provide their children with education remains strong and sustainable in their belief that the only way for their children to be competitive and to mold their future is through quality education.
We have once emerged victorious in the battle against the said health crisis and we shall continue to remain resilient in all forms of predicament even to disaster. The bottom line is that in all of this, triumph comes only to those who are one and united. The fight for education survival is the living proof of the unity among the people behind such as the students, the parents, the school administration and the government.