A 10th-grade student from Negros Occidental goes to Twitter to ask students to think about our educators
The hashtag #AcademicFreezeNOW was recently trending on Twitter, filled with Filipino students pleading to the Department of Education (DepEd) to cancel the upcoming school year. Due to the current Covid-19 health pandemic, DepEd has canceled all face-to-face learning and has prepared an online and modular school year to start on Oct. 5. Students have gone to social media to complain of the poor infrastructure, mental health issues, and other complications that will make the upcoming school year impractical for many, even impossible for some,toactually learn anything.
Among the top tweets, one stood out, a student thinking not of himself, but of his mother, a teacher.
“I agree [with] Academic Freeze because I’m a student… but I don’t want my mother’s (who’s a teacher) full-effort [to be for] nothing,” writes Stephen Emperado, a 10th-grade student from Escalante City in Negros Occidental. “Academic Freeze or not, it was a situation where neither party won.”
Attached to the tweet, which has gotten over 1,000 likes and hundreds of retweets, are photos of Stephen’s mother working on a laptop to help create lessons for her students.
“Proud akosa mama ko (I am proud of my mom),” Stephen adds in his Twitter thread.
The transition from face-to-face learning in a traditional classroom set-up to online or modular remote learning is something that affects not just students, but teachers as well. Adjusting to the new form of teaching has not been a smooth transition for some teachers.
Stephen asked his mother what her experience has been like. In her native Cebuano, she says, “Lisod kaayo nak oy, sige patag pangadto pakari sa eskwelahan kay di ko kabalo unsaon ang mga kuti kuti sa laptop (It is very difficult for me. I have to go back and forth from our house to the school because I don’t know how to use a laptop.)”
Their house does not have Wi-Fi. Their family cannot afford to use load to support fully online learning. That is why Stephen and his siblings have had to opt for modular learning despite the difficulties it poses, and why his mother needs to go to the school in the morning to get work done.
When his mother comes home, she stays up late into the night. Stephen has noticed that recently she does not go to bed until 1 a.m. because of all the voice and video recordings she has been working on for her students.
“All I can do is feel sorry because I can’t do anything,” he shares with Manila Bulletin Lifestyle. “I can’t help her kasi di naman ako marunong sa mga pinanggagawa nila. Minsan nagpapaturo siya sakin kung paano ang ganito ganiyan (I can’t help her because I don’t know what they are doing). I just try my best to help her.”
In remote learning, the home environment, which has now become the school environment, is important to supporting the student’s progress. But it isn’t easy. Parents and guardians need to have a rare mix of teaching ability and time. Stephen’s father, a salesman, is busy working in order to support his family. While Stephen’s motherhas the ability to help support her child’s learning, she is split between her duties as a teacher and as a mother.
“May mga estudyante pa siyang tinuturuan, may mga kapatid ko pa (She has her students who she has to teach, she has my siblings as well),” says Stephen. “Pinapasan pa niya ang responsilidad niya sa amin bilang ina (She also has the responsibilities of being our mother.)”
“Kailangan kong matuto ng ako lang. Si mama nagtuturo sa dalawa kong kapatid, so I have to be independent (I have to teach myself. My mother has to teach my two [younger] siblings),” the 10th-grader continues. “Kailangan kong pilitin ang sarili ko na mag self study. Di naman lahat ng tao parehas ang talino, ako, kailangan ko talagang may natuturo sakin. (I have to force myself to do self-study. Not everyone has that talent, and for me, I really need someone to help teach me).”
Based on his own experience, and the experiences of others that he reads on social media, Stephen still believes that an academic freeze is the best choice.
“We are not ready for these kinds of teaching methods,” Stephen repeats.
He sees the dynamic in his own home, the struggles and sacrifices of students, teachers, and guardians for the sake of education. In sharing that experience online with a tweet, he found he was not the only one proud of his mother. Hundreds of retweets and replies express support for teachers around the country. While teachers may be less vocal on social media than their young students, they are just as much part of the struggle.