UPRIGHT INSIGHT ENTHUSIAST: Overcoming the Odds: Paving the Path to Equitable Education
(An Editorial Writing)
By Geralyn DS. Tariman
In pursuing sustainable and inclusive economic growth, the Philippines faces a formidable challenge - a dire need for quality education. As we look ahead, it becomes evident that elementary students and those from disadvantaged backgrounds will require robust government support to recover the lost ground resulting from school closures. This exacerbates economic, personal, and social circumstances and hampers the country’s progress.
Technology emerges as a beacon of hope in times of adversity, offering ingenious and resilient solutions to combat disruptions. It empowers individuals to connect and collaborate online, eliminating the need for physical proximity. System modifications occur as businesses embrace these transformative technologies (Mark and Semaan, 2008). However, technological barriers, especially the lack of internet access in rural areas, significantly hinder the continuity of teaching and learning, particularly for academic institutions relying on online education. Therefore, it is imperative to support alternative learning models with well-designed technological infrastructure and logistical strategies throughout the pandemic (Edizon, 2020).
In light of this situation, the active participation of learners in the teaching-learning process becomes paramount, emphasizing the need for flexibility. It is about creating practical learning experiences that expose students to many educational opportunities. When face-to-face learning is impossible during the epidemic, educators employ flexible distance learning methods such as correspondence teaching, module-based learning, project-based learning, and television broadcasting. Computer-assisted education, synchronous online learning, asynchronous online learning, and collaborative e-learning can be explored for those with internet access.
Furthermore, we must not overlook the holistic well-being of students, including their mental and physical health, social development, and nutrition, which requires more than a mere return to traditional classroom settings (UNICEF, 2022). The extended period of learning outside the classroom has resulted in a significant loss of foundational skills in arithmetic and reading, which must be addressed.
To ensure the continuity of teaching and learning amidst the pandemic, critically evaluating educational institutions’ limitations is essential. This evaluation must encompass the perspectives of various stakeholders, including students, faculty, the curriculum, and external contributors. Consequently, higher education institutions must engage in strategic scenario analysis, leveraging data to prepare for the best, feasible, and worst-case scenarios regarding curriculum, student engagement, and technology. To adapt to the ever-changing landscape, these institutions must embrace flexible teaching and learning methodologies by realigning the curriculum, providing faculty training, and upgrading infrastructure. To thrive in chaotic and unpredictable settings, these strategic measures must be regularly assessed, altered, and enhanced during times of crisis. After all, given the numerous factors at play, our primary goal is to establish a classroom climate in which students may actively engage and succeed in their educational journey.
As we deal with the consequences of the current crisis, the educational system must prepare for what lies ahead and embrace the new normal. Higher education institutions must proactively maintain teaching and learning continuity throughout and after the outbreak. Education professionals, students, and parents hold the key to delivering constructive answers, and we must all work together to achieve the long-awaited goal of providing a fair and equitable education for everyone.