Another important step in this long pandemic will be marked today (December 6, 2021), this time leaning on the right side as the Ministry of Education (DepEd) has confirmed that 177 schools, including 28 public schools in the metropolitan area from Manila, will join a pilot project. in person.
In addition to the loss of human life and the blow to the economy, the pandemic has drastically disrupted the education system. Students have been forced to take distance education, even those without the financial capacity or the gadgets to go online. Teachers have been forced to find ways to teach amid their own struggles at home, even though they lack the skills to deliver a compelling lesson online. Education related industries, such as canteen caterers, school buses, tutoring companies, etc. were left on their own to survive. This scenario has been dubbed the “school loss pandemic”.
The Philippines, which is among the last in the world to allow face-to-face classes, faces an uphill battle. Future studies will show how students were left behind in courses that required classroom instruction like science and medicine. This was supported by a statement from the Director-General of UNESCO, Audrey Azoulay: “Prolonged and repeated closures of educational institutions have a growing psychosocial impact on students, increasing learning losses and the risk of learning. abandonment, disproportionately affecting the most vulnerable. Complete school closures should therefore be a last resort and their safe reopening a priority. “
With a constant number of new COVID cases, given the scenario that Omicron would be kept away from our borders, restarting face-to-face learning is a good decision – and a timely one.
The DepEd also said that the evaluation period for the first round of face-to-face pilot courses will last until December 22, 2021. The pilot study is expected to end on January 31, 2022. The results of the pilot tests will be presented to the president in February 2022. If all goes well and there has been no exposure to the virus for teachers and students, the expansion could begin on March 7, 2022, paving the way for a sense of normalcy for the education sector.
In light of this, the opening of schools after a long and exhausting pandemic has encouraged the resilience of the education system. According to public policy organization Brookings Institution, the COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in at least one positive thing: a much greater appreciation for the importance of schools.
“As parents struggle to work with their children at home due to school closures, public recognition of the essential caretaking role schools play in society has skyrocketed. As young people struggle to learn at home, parents’ gratitude to teachers, their skills and their invaluable role in the well-being of students has increased. As communities struggle to care for their vulnerable children and youth, policymakers must design new mechanisms to deliver essential services, from food to education to health care.
There has not been a period in our recent history when education has been so disrupted. The pandemic may have shaken decades of progress in the delivery of learning, but it is not yet too late. There are positive aspects that can be taken away from distance learning, while some of its aspects need to be improved or abandoned altogether. Some things are also now seen as priorities, such as internet connectivity and the need to ensure a safe and clean environment for learning.
The pilot opening of 177 schools is just the start of a long journey ahead. May these schools find their way to the right destination so that we can anticipate the opening of the next academic year with the students inside the classroom.
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