Life in the Time of COVID-19, Part 6: On DepEd, the School Year, and Academics

Posted on - in Education

Just today, August 14, 2020, the Department of Education or DepEd decided to defer the opening of classes to October 5 for public schools, from the original date that was supposed to be August 24. This was announced in an online press conference by Secretary Leonor Briones.

I think this is a good idea, considering that we’re generally not ready for the Distance Learning modality.

Academic freeze isn’t an option for DepEd, so deferring the opening of classes to a later date is a welcome decision, especially for parents.

This will give the department some time to refine their Distance Learning strategies, especially in terms of distribution of modules and preparing everyone for digital.

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Yes, even with modular modality, students will still need online access. For research, for talking to their teachers for clarification on lessons, etc.

Those who buy the “meron namang modular” argument don’t get it. Unless they’re enrolled in a public school and chose modular and have tried it. If they have the time and capability to teach their children, then well and good. Unfortunately, not all parents can do so.

Maybe because they’re also working from home.

Maybe because they feel they’re not qualified because they didn’t graduate with a degree.

Maybe because they have multiple kids while juggling chores and raket.

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Teachers can help, some say. Parents can approach them for help in the child’s lessons.

Then we risk the teachers’ health and safety. Not only would they be tired from talking to parents on the phone for hours on end; sometimes they would have to visit the children to ensure they are on track with the lessons, thereby exposing them to the dangers that lurk outside. DepEd needs to look into that, too.

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Some people would argue, “Kung ayaw n’yo mag-enroll, e di wag.” “Academic freeze? Bakit n’yo pipigilan ang gusto mag-aral?

True, some kids won’t want to be left behind by their peers. But unfortunately, some parents can’t afford to send their kids to school right now because the pandemic has compromised their way of life.

This made me remember of a televised student debate I watched when I was in elementary, if education was a privilege and not a right.

The team that argued that education was a privilege won that day.

However I wanted to believe, even then, that education was a right, circumstances led me to do otherwise, especially now during this pandemic.

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A lot of parents are concerned about their kids lagging behind in terms of academics if classes are not to push through this year.

Which made me think, I’m glad to have understood early on that academics is not the end-all and be-all of a student’s life.

Some summers ago, we encountered a learning center that offered a unique life hacks workshop for kids. The pitch for parents was that beyond academics, kids need to learn practical skills that would lead them to be not just book-smart but street-smart as well.

This year, we’ve immersed ourselves in information on homeschooling and attended seminars about them, learning about how we can maximize a child’s learning capabilities without the rigidity of a school setting.

The fear of one’s child being left behind academically is valid for parents. I don’t discount that. But there are other ways for kids to learn. Cooking involves Math, Science, and Home Economics. Sorting the laundry per color is Science, too. Hanging laundry using clothespins involves fine motor skills. Eldest has also tinkered on Canva, which is Arts and Computer combined.

See, even household chores can be avenues for learning. I mean, to be honest, when cooking Spam, we’re always about fractions, LOL!

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Anyway, I think the move to open classes on October 5 is a good decision by DepEd. They need to iron out kinks in delivery of modules and, well, even their channel to serve its stakeholders — parents, teachers, and children — well. Distance Learning, whether online or modular (well, even homeschooling), is something quite new to navigate. The worse thing that could happen is to go full throttle with it without having checked if everything is in optimal condition. Because if that happens, everyone will just suffer. And in the midst of a pandemic, further suffering is not an option.

 

 

Cover photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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