The effect of El Niño phenomenon to education and the DepEd’s way out
By Cristina Montes-Buquid
Our authorities in the sector of education has recently made a statement pressing the schools to make some adjustments by shifting to blended learning in view of the emergence of the El Niño phenomenon. The existence of such weather phenomenon will make the hot weather conditions difficult to learners.
The appeal was made after the Philippine Atmospheric Geophysical and Astronomical Service Administration or PAGASA elevated an El Niño alert because of the massive high temperature experienced in most part of the country. According to PAGASA the said phenomenon will linger this year.
To avoid the extreme effect of the heat, the school administration both in the private and public sector were given the obligation to make sure that the welfare of the students is protected and safe. Thus if they feel the presence of extreme heat or even storms, or any untoward incidents that will affect the students, they are given the authority to either cancel the class or resort to blended learning.
This is due to some reports that in some areas of the country, children have been suffering from heat cramps, head ache and other health issues related to the extreme warm weather condition. Because of this, and even prior to the formal declaration of the Department of Education (DepEd) to shift to blended learning, the schools have already made their own move to mitigate the effect of the El Nino to their pupils. Among the actions advanced by the teachers are the conduct of face-to-face for a few days in a week and the rest of the instructions are made thru online or distribution of modules. In fact, some were force to conduct academic instruction outside and under the shade of the tree because the air circulation in the classroom are warmer than outside.
As early as 2022 our DepEd policy-makers have already initially institutionalize and recognizes the need to suspend or cancel classes and work in schools during emergencies brought about by natural disasters and calamities, or the occurrences of brownouts in places where schools are located. Thus in the extreme case of postponed or suspended classes, teachers are ordered to implement said modular distance learning, give and bring home performance tasks and projects to the pupils, or scheduled a make-up classes to ensure that learning competencies and objectives are still met despite the hindrances of the weather conditions or any calamity or disasters.
The adjustments and/or changes can be attributed to the previous policy to change the school calendar where the months of April and May are part of the academic year/semester instead of the summer or school break. The objective is to avoid the rainy season wherein based on study and experienced are traumatic to students specially in Metro Manila who had been overburdened with flood and its effect.
Some lawmakers had already proposed to revert to the old academic calendar in view of the afore-cited circumstances and after receiving reports of untoward incidents that exposes to danger and health the students.
The Department of Education (DepEd) has organized a technical working group (TWG) to study the proposal to revert to the old academic calendar, where the school break of the students would be in April and May. After the TWG have come up with extensive research and study, they will prepare a report with categorical recommendation in order to become a concrete basis to finally return to the old school calendar.
As we can see now, the Philippine educational system is characterized with constant changes in order to adapt to the growing and/or emerging situations such as the pandemic, weather conditions and other factors affecting the education process. We should remain to be dynamic so that the educational system should be our dominant consideration because this is the only way where we can provide our children with the needed education in order to be competitive in their future endeavor. As our dear National Hero Jose P. Rizal had once said, they are the hope of our country.
The governments priority to provide quality education should never be compromise nor unbroken by such inconveniences and troubles plaguing our country. We have to intensify our campaign to improved it. One way is to invest in education in terms of creating manpower, personnel and hiring of more school teachers to equal the population of students. Give preferential attention to the financial aspect or budgeting in the operations which include among others the construction of more classroom building with good ventilation in order also to provide convenience to students and the teachers in times of extreme heat and rains and of course, adequate school supplies and equipment. After all, quality education is not only limited to academic instructions but also to the physical aspects. A convenient environment added to the inspirations of more students in order to come to school and dedicate themselves to study more.
While our general appropriation bill made the Department of Education among the top departments with highest budgetary allocation, the same is still inadequate knowing the growing needs for every situation. With such inadequacy, the support of the individuals and non-government organization (NGO) are already being tapped to support our needs. They are donating school classrooms and other equipment to augment the lacking logistics in exchange for the governments grant of tax holiday in their business.
This kind or projects and innovations in educations increases stability and convenience in operating the system. It makes the institution strong with nothing left but to focus on providing quality academic instructions and as supported by policies or guidelines that serves as the parameters in the day to day effort to achieve our goal.
With these, we call upon the stakeholders to give their utmost support to all the programs of the department and of course the government bearing in mind the welfare of the students who shall become the pillars of progress of the country.