The lack of resources amid the ongoing public health situation caused by COVID-19 is the “biggest challenge” for many parents, students, and teachers as they prepare for the opening of a new school year.
In an online press conference organized by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on Friday, Rose Bihag, a mother of two public elementary students from Tondo, Manila, explained the scheduled school opening is very challenging for her and her family.
“We’re struggling to provide what they need for blended or distance learning but it is very difficult for now,” she said in Filipino.
“We are trying to save up so we can buy the gadgets our children need for online learning but we cannot do that now with the MECQ [Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine].”
“We’re really not ready, so I think the school opening date should be postponed for now,” she added.
Mithi Redem Laya Morales, 16, admitted the days leading to school opening is “very stressful” for students like her.
An incoming Grade 11 student at Philippine Christian University, she explained, “Many students have no gadgets, some have yet to submit the needed requirements due to MECQ. I think all these also affect the mental health of many students, many of them are getting depressed.”
April Mae Doringo, 11, an incoming Grade 6 pupil at the Camarin Elementary School added, “While I have enrolled already, we’re still clueless on what to do. Until now, I still do not know which learning modality to use since I don’t have gadgets to use.”
Maria Michaela Pancha, from University of the East-Manila and Clarice Palce from Polytechnic University of the Philippines also shared their school opening concerns.
Palce, an incoming college sophomore, said lack of resources to fulfill the demands and requirements of blended/distance learning is “biggest problem of many students right now.”
Pancha appealed for the government to allow limited face-to- face classes for the tertiary level if possible.
“Many college students will be left behind especially if online learning is used as the learning modality,” both said. “We hope the government and the agencies concerned will listen to the real situation of those that are directly affected by their policies.”
For Louie Zabala, a high school teacher at Felipe G. Calderon Integrated School in Manila, DepEd should recognize how “anti-poor” and “anti-teacher” the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP) is.
“It is not inclusive, not adoptive and many teachers are forced to exhaust their resources just to meet its requirements,” he said.
“Some applications that we need to learn are quite technical and complex and many of us do not have the enough resources to buy the appropriate gadgets for these requirements,” he added.