DepEd's Mission and the Struggles of Distance Education

How does it feel like to have graduated or finished a school year without marching on a school stage; with parents cheering and teary-eyed on their children's academic success and victory.

That was supposed to be the final moment of academic fulfillment, and the commencement to a higher level of learning.

For college graduates, that's supposed to be a preparation time for board exam, and for others, a welcome to an entry-level work.  

Instead of a formal moving up and graduation events in school, what we've witnessed are virtual ceremonies. No sweet smiles... No crying moments. Just a virtual reality.

The Covid-19 pandemic had stolen such precious and memorable moments of the learners, instead it was replaced with fears, anxieties and uncertainties of what lies ahead.

After several months of academic freeze and delays of school year opening, the Philippine Department of Education is now ready for the official opening of school year 2020-2021, with 24.72 million enrolled public and private school students in the Philippines.

That's just 89 percent of the 2019 enrollees. Despite the DepEd's call to pursue the school opening on this year 2020, there are parents and students who have decided to sacrifice a year of education for their children.

We can't blame the parents and students of their choice, hence they have valid reasons on why they have to make this biggest sacrifice in times of health criris.

The threat of Covid-19

Parents are protective of their children. The threat of corona virus is just around, and so for them, it's better to be safe than sorry. Although the DepEd has made it a blended learning with no physical classroom or face-to-face learning, still some parents are apprehensive on how distance learning works and having some doubts on its effectiveness.

There are criticism and appeal from some education stakeholders, but the decision of the DepEd to open the classes this year is truly commendable. They didn't rely on uncertainty, but they acted with selfless concern for the Childrens' education that's a priority.

Secretary Briones is truly a fighter of Education. She has shown perseverance in doing her call of duty. Her dedication to serve millions of students and stakeholders is unstoppable. She can't be moved by fears and doubts, instead she is showing us a fighting spirit and a courageous heart. 

The DepEd, its officers, including the members of the faculty and staff all over the Philippines are considered frontliners.

There may be thousands of Covid-19 casualties in the country to be worried about, but they didn't allow to kill the goals and dreams of the students by depriving them of a continuous education despite the odds.

They may be late on the scene, but they give the last best hope to the student's brighter future. We're hoping that their passion for children's education will be their best defense, not just for the pandemic, but for all challenges they'll face in delivering quality education.

Poverty is not a hindrance

More families have lost a decent and comfortable living. More people have lost jobs that provides food for the table of the family. Those breadwinners are also providers of hopes and dreams. Once they lost their source of living, they may not be able to provide a good life to their family.

With blended learning, students will utilize different approaches to learning. There's a modular or printed materials, TV and radio and the online or digital learning.

For some educational institutions, the use of electronic gadgets like laptop or desktop computers, tablets and smartphones are essential tools for learning. While other families could provide their children with any gadgets, other children are not able to have one due to poverty.

It's not the lack of gadgets that will be a hindrance to education, it's the poverty consciousness and the lack of means to provide one for their children.

There are students who received laptops from a fundraising initiative. Others have worked for an extra job just to buy one. Some parents would make a sacrifice and do the best they can to buy a gadget to their Childrens' learning. 

There's no excuse. It's the value for education that really matters, not the excused of poverty.

Challenges to Online Connectivity

When some schools have opened earlier in August 2020, we've seen the struggles of some students and teachers in getting online and be connected so not to miss a single moment of learning.

However, with several issues like slow internet speed and lack of cellular tower infrastructure, some students in remote areas are finding ways by climbing a hill or a tree or walking several miles to find a better internet connectivity.

Slow internet is not only experienced in remote areas. For users in the cities, issues of lagging and intermittent connection is evident and remains a challenge.

Our giant Telecom networks are doing their best to upgrade their infrastructures, to provide a better connectivity and online experience to all, especially to the students and teachers who need it most regularly.

In this digital world, where everyone seem to go online, we need a better connectivity so as not to be left behind. Telcos play a big role in making sure that we experience a smooth and lag-free connectivity to the online world.

Other Challenges

Since the shift and demand for a distance learning, it may be a stressor for senior teachers who are not adept with digital technology.

Some teachers may rely on the help of the young ones on how to use electronic gadgets and to utilize digital tools for learning.

DepEd has come to the rescue by training the teachers to make a better use of different gadgets as an essential educational tool.

Some teachers may not be technology savvy, but they show great love and compassion to their students. They would literally cross and swim a river just to deliver the modules and other learning materials to students in remote areas.

For both teachers and students, privacy and home environment may sometime cause distraction for teaching and learning. For instance, background noises can affect concentration while having online classes. 

There are various untoward situations that could be a hindrance in quality learning with the use of digital technology. It may be challenging in the beginning, but eventually all will learn to adjust and adapt well.

DepEd's mission is 'to protect and promote the right of every Filipino to quality, equitable, culture-based, and complete basic education where: Students learn in a child-friendly, gender-sensitive, safe, and motivating environment.' 

With the new blended learning approach, their mission will remain, and their selfless love would leave imprints in the hearts of everyone whom they have touch lives.

The future of Distance Learning

We're now living on a digital age. Education in times of pandemic is possible and shouldn't be totally a struggle. With the use of technology and internet connectivity, learning continues and being redefined.

DepEd never stops promoting education. There may be some late enrollees, but it's better than quitting to learn and continue on living in fear and uncertainty.

For those who have decided not to enroll due to health and economic reasons, may they never quit on their life's greatest aspirations. It's through continuous learning that we're closer to achieving our dreams and heart's desire.

Remember the sacrifices of our parents, teachers and everyone who matters to our lives. They are our greatest inspirations. Our heroes in giving us the right education.

Beyond Pandemic

We never know what the future holds, but  this present-day pandemic won't stop us on achieving our dreams... Our greatest aspirations... Our ultimate mission.

Education is the key to a brighter life ahead. It awakens the power of our soulful desires and shifts our mindset from poverty-consciousness to wisdom-consciousness.

Continue to learn, to dream, and to aspire for great things in life. Don't limit, but unleash the hidden and untapped potentials. There's life after the storm. There's a reason to live every after our greatest struggle; even on these days of pandemic and beyond.

©️ 2020 iCritq PH


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