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Teachers fear new normal will deprive students of education amid lack of internet, computer access

Teachers from government-run schools fear students will be deprived of access to education under a new normal setup—a method which combines face-to-face learning and online schooling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

College instructor Theresa Lazaro-Ordoñez of Bulacan State University, Master Teacher 1 Jacqueline Ong of Novaliches High School, and Teacher 3 Valentina Sevilla of Muzon National High School in San Jose del Monte, Bulacan expressed apprehension over the new normal setup mainly because a greater number of their students do not have enough resources for a stable internet connection and a laptop or tablet needed for online/distance learning methods.

“Actually, pinasubukan sa amin ito, ‘yung online discussion at lecture this ECQ (enhanced community quarantine), [at] mahirap talaga makakuha ng mataas na percentage ng participation o attendance. Pati ‘yung submission ng tasks, hirap mag-comply ang mga bata,” Lazaro-Ordoñez told GMA News Online.

“Considering the pandemic and health concerns, sa tertiary [level], another semester na off-campus learning, sa tingin ko, kaya naman. Pero kung student ang papasan ng costs of access [sa online learning], marami lalong hindi makakapag-aral,” added Lazaro-Ordoñez, who teaches Social Sciences.

Ong, who teaches MAPEH, noted that households of public school students are already on a tight budget as it is in terms of funding the basic needs of the family such as food and transportation.

“Sa public school, mahirap magwork ‘yung online kasi una sa lahat, marami sa mga estudyante na iyong pamasahe at baon nga pino-problema nila. How do we expect these students and their families to even have an internet and computers at home?” Ong pointed out.

“Face-to-face learning remains the most effective tool but the primary concern now is safety. In doing this “new normal” method, the number one challenge is the internet connection as well as the laptop/computers to be used by both students and teachers,” she added.

Never before seen challenges

Sevilla said that while public school teachers have always found ways to maximize the limited government resources, the new normal presents unprecedented challenges.

“Puwede iyang new normal kasi mahirap rin isapalaran ang buhay ng mga estudyante. Pero sa public school, mahirap talaga kasi hindi lahat may gadget at internet connection. Depende pa nga sa lugar kung malakas ang signal,” she said.

“Also, dressmaking ang tinuturo ko. Paano kaya iyon [sa new normal na may online]? E iyong pagtututo ng horticulture? Kaya nag-iisip nga kami talaga paano ang gagawing approach ngayon. Willing naman kaming sumubok ng mga bagay-bagay. Mahirap, pero gagawan namin ng paraan. Hindi nga lang sigurado kung ito ay magiging successful,” Sevilla added.

Lazaro-Ordoñez then said that access to internet connection and tablet should be addressed first before the government thinks of pushing through with the opening of classes by August 24.

“Feasible naman ‘yung "new normal”. Siyempre, nagbabago ang panahon eh. Mahirap, pero kayang mag-train, makakapag-adjust ang mga kawani. Pero dapat gawing sentro ‘yung issue ng accessibility,” Lazaro-Ordoñez said.

“Para kanino ba ang edukasyon? Ano bang goals ng education? Baka naliligaw na sila,” she added.

President Rodrigo Duterte earlier said that classes should remain suspended pending availability of the vaccine against COVID-19.

The three teachers shared the President’s sentiments that safety comes first.

“The school opening should be postponed until the vaccine is available to all,” Ong said.

“Walang papasok hangga't walang vaccine against COVID-19. Tigilan na natin ‘iyong ilusyon na kakayanin ng health sector natin ang additional risks sa pagtaas ng COVID-19 cases,” Lazaro-Ordoñez added.
The Philippines has recorded 15,049 COVID-19 cases, thus far. Of this number, 3,506 recovered while 904 have died.

On May 27, the Philippines also registered 380 new COVID-19 infections, the highest number of new cases in a single day since 414 new infections were announced on April 6.—AOL, GMA News