Four parents talk about the cost of
online education – from gadgets, wifi,
to making time to check the online classes
Definitely, school will be a new experience this year, not only for students but also for parents and everyone who is involved in supporting the school system.
Parents are preparing for the new school environment with some apprehension. There was nothing like this in the past to guide them on what is the right or wrong way to prepare for school. Preparing for school opening today involves much planning and finances.
A businesswoman, Jennifer Ki Chiu, 43, had enrolled her three children at Everest Academy Manila. “We had to upgrade to better Wi-fi , buy a printer and an additional laptop,” she said. The family also had to prepare a “quiet area in the house” for the online classes of the kids – Bea, 10; Asher, 7; and Luke, 6.
That’s the same preparations that Filipino leadership speaker, author, and entrepreneur Lloyd Luna, 38, is going through. He enrolled his daughter in a school in Makati. He also registered Erin Sky, 6, in an online tutorial school “so she can get accustomed with the technology.”
Not all parents can afford to enroll their children in online classes to prepare them for the new normal classroom experience.
Renan Santos, 47, said new learning platforms entailed additional costs which will stretch the family’s resources further. A security guard from Paranaque, this father of two – who will be in Grade 9 and Grade 12 –said he also wishes to provide gadgets that would make learning a lot easier for his children this school year.
But, with a salary of P20,000 per month, he admitted that they could not afford to prepare for this year’s schooling. “Ang daming gastos, wala talagang ibang pagkukunan sa ngayon kasi bawal magtinda sa talipapa, online selling wala naman kami noon, o pang-deliver wala rin – suma total, walang paghahanda na maaaring gawin (We have a lot of expenses and there’s no other source of income for now since it’s not allowed to sell in markets, we have no online selling or means of delivery for that matter. All in all there’s no preparation for it),” Santos said.
While this school opening might be far from being normal, lawyer Joseph Noel Estrada, 42, believes that parents can use this opportunity to teach children to “welcome the change.”
Estrada enrolled his three children – ages 6, 12, and 13 – to a Catholic school in Metro Manila.
“We participated in the school’s dry run so that the kids are acquainted well with the online platform,” he said. Since the school was already using a Learning Management System (LMS) – a software application for school management—prior to the pandemic, there are no major adjustments for them. “Only this time, it’s on a wider scale,” he added.
“They welcome the change, they are more relaxed at home and they don’t have to wake up at 5 a.m. just to avoid traffic,” he added.
The other factor that parents have to prepare for is their time to participate in the education of their children.
Ki Chiu said: “As a parent, you definitely need to give more of your time with the online classes which can be hard to juggle if you are a working mom.”
To ensure that her children will get the guidance that they need, Ki Chu plans to adjust her working schedule. “I will have to alternate the days that I will go to work like every other day,” she said. Fortunately, they have a tutor and a nanny “who can help out with teaching the children.”
While they have yet to receive instructions from her daughter’s school, Luna said he and his wife will “adjust accordingly and as needed.”
If there’s one adjustment, it is time management since his daughter will be studying at home. “She’ll need assistance from time to time so it may take some of our time to do so,” he added.
Same goes for Estrada who said: “My wife and I will just make sure that our kids check their LMS regularly and finish all assigned work before they play or do other things.”
It will be difficult, though, for other parents to tutor their children. Santos said he and his wife would like to do that but they might not have the ability to do so since he only graduated high school while his wife finished elementary. With no gadgets such as a laptop or desktop and relying solely on modules, he is worried that children have to make a huge adjustment for their education.
“Mahabang proseso yung module, eh hindi naman basta maiintindihan ng mga bata yan at pag tinanong yung mother nila, wala ring alam na isasagot, actually kahit ako baka hindi rin alam yon (The module is a long process because it won’t be easily understood, if they will ask my wife, she many not know the answer; even I may not know it too),” he said.
While online learning keeps her kids safe inside their home, Ki Chiu admitted that it may be “very hard to get the younger children to sit through and concentrate” during hours of online classes in a day.
Meanwhile, Luna is concerned that the “technology may take over the social component of learning especially if the school and the teachers will heavily depend on the technology rather than the goal of the technology itself.” To address this, he hopes that schools and teachers could find ways to be able to “humanize” the technology as they use it.
Since his children have already started attending online classes, Estrada observed that they are “adjusting well with school.” If there’s one downside, his children told him that “they miss playing around with their classmates.”
Due to the challenges faced by many Filipino families due to the pandemic and the absence of face-to-face classes, Santos believes that classes should be moved to a later date.
“There are a lot of students who have a hard time learning even with the presence of their teacher, what more if they will do it on their own, I think it would be better if classes will be postponed until the next school year,” he said in Pilipino.
Santos said that he’d be willing to send his kids to school once the government deems it safe. But for now, he believes that there is no need to rush school this year given the current situation.
“Wala namang dahilan para magmadali sa pag-aaral kasi ang daming graduate walang trabaho, may mga nurse hindi kayang pasahurin ng gobyerno, kahit teachers walang bakante so di kailangan mag-apura (There’s no reason to rush schooling; there are a lot of graduates who do not have jobs, nurses who are not being compensated, there are no slots even for teachers, so I think there is no need to do this at once),” he added.
However, Estrada saw things differently. “I really feel that learning should continue through remote learning or other modalities while face-to-face learning is not yet allowed,” he said. “I feel that if my kids lose a year of learning, it will affect their development, their interest, and their drive and I don’t want them to go into retrogression and suffer education loss,” he added.
Despite the changes in the education landscape, Luna expressed optimism on the recent developments in the system. For now, he’s not sending his daughter out. “We will send her back to school for face-to-face learning surely after she’s vaccinated, otherwise, we will have to continue enrolling in a school which offers remote education,” he explained.