27 May 2020

Please Don’t Wish for This School Year to Be Cancelled for All, Let Us Have the Option for Distance Learning

When DepEd announced that school year 2020-2021 will commence on August 24th, parents on social media went wild. It's a pretty understandable reaction for that predicament. The curve hasn't flattened yet and no vaccine is available to prevent it. The hashtag #BakunaBagoEskwela went viral. It was another proof that social media is indeed powerful, whether if used positively or otherwise. In fact, the very same sentiment reached Malacañang Palace. President Duterte said in his speech taped Monday night—"I will not allow the opening of classes na magdikit-dikit iyang mga bata na ‘yan. Bahala na hindi na makatapos... Unless I am sure that they are really safe... Para sa akin, bakuna muna."


If I have to choose one good thing the President ever said, this has to be it. No intentional parent would allow their children to basically be a walking virus sponge. My children hasn't gone out of the gate since March 9! My husband takes a bath first before entering the house. We take extra preventive measures because our kids are our treasures.

What went wrong though was it validated the clamor of some parents to postpone the school year altogether. There were parents in my Facebook page and in mommy groups who said that the option of virtual classes is unfair for those who can't afford it. It was also the statement of Ang Probinsyano Party-list Representative Ronnie Ong, "The (DepEd) should postpone the resumption of classes this year instead of resorting to virtual classrooms which would only prejudice students who are not equipped with e-learning gadgets and could not afford to have any internet connection."

It's quite saddening to know that this is even an issue. I'm glad there are moms like me who would be raising their children the same way I would be raising mine. Mom of two, Astrid Vera Viloria-Bernardo said in her Facebook status: 

“Even before Covid-19, there were already a lot of families who cannot afford to send their children to school worldwide but no one spoke for them to cancel the education of children whose parents work hard to make ends meet. There are ways to continue education safely, there is no need to cancel it for all. We need to adapt and be resilient, and we ought to teach that to our children. This is a great life lesson we can all impart to them."

If the statement of those moms saying the virtual classes option is unfair comes from their compassionate hearts, I guess what they can do is offer assistance rather than block the way of those who try to move forward. 

My sister-in-law, Hayden Decena, mom of three smart kids and a teacher at Batasan National High School said, "As a teacher, especially in a public school, mahirap sila i-motivate ulit pumasok since wala silang retention. Kahit one week lang yung gap ng last lesson, wala silang mare-remember so for me mas okay if they will be given modules since impossible naman talaga yung online learning for my students. Much better yung home study for them using the modules created by teachers. Plus pre-recorded videos of some lessons. Better kung my continuity yung learning nila and at the same time, we can involve the parents."

Hold on to your seats because this will surely hit hard. It's real talk straight from an experienced public school teacher.

"Sinisisi nila lahat sa amin their kid's progress sa school. Most of the time, nakakalimutan na nila na school, community and home are supposed to be partners in their child's future not the school alone. Sobrang hirap makipag-coordinate sa parents even in regular class setting. Pumupunta lang sila sa school para makipag-away sa teachers na kesyo hindi sila nai-inform about the status ng kids nila sa school. When in fact, they don't even attend parent-teacher meetings. Yung parents ng excellent and average students, yun pa yung always present during meetings and responsive sa group chats that the advisers created to reach them out. Pero yung mga may mga difficulties na students, yung parents pa nila yung mas walang pakielam."

Wow, SIL didn't just offer tea this afternoon, she dropped a huge truth bomb!

Okay, can I just discuss the "parents against teachers" part a bit before we go further? 

You see, I read some comments on social media that they won't pay that much if it would only be digital classes. They think it's too costly. I perfectly get that. But do you think in digital classes, teachers won't do anything? Like checking the exams, giving feedbacks and making sure the students understood the topic? As someone who experienced homeschooling for a year, I can honestly tell you why teachers should be compensated as much as engineers and doctors. Why don't we trust them more so this time? They studied education and proper ways to teach for years! Of course, we are our kids' first teachers but if you're a shouty type especially when you help them with their homeworks (like I was lol) , believe me, homeschooling for an entire year can literally make you sick. It might do more harm than good, might even cause a dent in your relationship with your children.


So I hope you consider what Aila Martha Decano-Serrano, an Early Childhood Educator at Miriam College Child Study Center and a mom of one said.

"Digital Learning is not new but doing it for a long period of time, now that's something we all haven't tried. Children have different learning styles. Some can easily adapt while others need quite some time. My personal choice is of course to enroll my daughter Himig to a school trusting that the school has a plan and is taking all the necessary measures to prepare for this #newnormal. Taking into consideration class size, attention span and the needs of children. There will be class hours but this time parents should be more involved. Hindi na lang tayo taga-hatid at sundo. Aalamin na natin ang dapat nilang gawin para sa klase. Iche-check kung nagawa ba nila ng tama. Parent-Teacher partnership should be stronger than ever. Just like how it's supposed to be. I want Himig to learn how to adapt and giving it a try before saying it's too hard."

To have grit is what every parent should learn to teach their children. Sounds uncool and cliché for you? Here are the more common terms that parents before us have used: Courage and perseverance. To make sure they are safe at home isn't the only thing that proves our love for our offsprings. We also need to boost their hope in having a bright future. We can't let them just live in fear.

Now, if you really have decided to homeschool, I hope you research more about it first. Like, you should know that Distance Learning is different from Homeschooling. Ina Gonda-Ramos, mom of one, has MA in Child Development and Education from UA&P and Director of Scuola Maria, a private school in Batangas shares this: 
“In homeschooling, the primary role of teaching is in the parent/guardian. All lectures, assessments (tests), and grading will be done by the parent. At the end of the year, they need to pass an exam to get promotion to get to the next grade level. Distance Learning, which is a form of home study, is different from homeschooling. In distance learning, the primary role of teaching is in the school/teacher. Parents and guardians function as learning coaches and mentors who monitor the progress of the child. In distance learning, teachers make and give the exams. Formal report cards are also released by the school where you enrolled your child in. 
In our school, we will offer the Distance Learning Program. Although it is based online, learning can continue offline because all learning materials (lectures, activities, and tests) will be available for the whole year in the platform. It is also called distance learning because your child can study based on a time that is flexible for your family.”


Your child, your rules—what a lot of moms have mastered to say when other parents give unsolicited advice. I have used that many times myself in the past and stopped gradually ‘cause the truth is, “it takes a village to raise a child”. 

Marge Aberasturi, a Virtual Assistant extraordinaire, homeschooling mom of three and co-owner of a Science High School in Batangas said, “distance learning is going to be a challenge but if we partner with the right schools, then we may be able to reach a compromise where parents are not so stressed out in assisting the kids, or forced to spend on equipment and internet connection. This is what we plan to do: Offer blended learning so parents are given options. They can choose what would work best for them. The teacher will be available for consultations.” 

It’s all about choosing what we think is best for our families. And I think a lot of parents, especially those who have full-time jobs are going to the Distance Learning path for their kids. If we think that it’s unfair for those who can’t afford, isn’t it unfair too to stop those who choose to move forward by wishing this school year to be cancelled entirely? Also,there will be thousands of private school teachers who would lose jobs if the cancellation pushes through. OK, some of you’d surely say it’s their employers’ problem. Wow, look who's being unfair now?

Being a school owner, Marge is concerned about the employees and their families. She said, “we have 35 employees who will lose their income if we do not operate for a year. Remaining closed will have an impact on the economic situation of these 35 families, and we are trying to avoid that. Nagpa-sweldo kami ng March, April and this month kahit hindi kami naka-collect ng payments for the fourth quarter. We are trying to avoid having to tell teachers na wala muna silang sweldo for this school year.” 

Compassion should be for all, my friends. People with placemats on their dining tables need to work, too, you know. We also have gone through a lot these past months. We also have uncertainties. We shared the same fears for our families, our children. But we are choosing to move forward. We won’t let this pandemic put a halt in our children’s goals to finish their studies. We can be safe at home and learn at the same time. Please don’t wish for this school year to be cancelled for all, let us have the option for Distance Learning. 


PS - Life skills? It should be taught by parents even if there's no pandemic. In case you'd say you'd teach those to your kids instead of enrolling them this school year. 


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Main photo by: Annie Spratt on Unsplash

5 comments:

  1. This is very true momsh.😊 Madaming ganitong magulang. Minsan Kung sino pang walang ambag sa lipunan sila PA Yun madami reklamo. Hindi Lang naman sa school pwede matuto ang Bata Pati na rin sa bahay madaming paraan.
    Erica Sosing

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  2. Very relevant, levelheaded and noteworthy commentary from a parent especially in this very trying time. Thank you very much. Please allow me to share your worthy thoughts on our page. God bless!

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    1. Yes, you may share. Kindly credit accordingly. Thank you! :)

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  3. thank you for sharing this article. this is a free country where everybody is given choices..and i choose that learning must continue

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  4. Good morning po. The government should rather cancel air and sea trips for a year rather than to cancel classes for one school year. The Department of Education had laid out already the Learning Continuity Plan where most post negative feedbacks already before even understanding the content. This is now the hard time that everybody must realize that life must continue (EDUCATION IS LIFE-DEWEY) despite of the pandemic we are facing.

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