PRESIDENTIAL spokesperson Harry Roque’s more recent clarification was that the President is not inclined to green-light any school opening in the “face-to-face” mode while the country is under community quarantine and without any vaccine in sight.
The supposed opening of public schools will be on Aug. 24, 2020, which means that the Department of Education (DepEd) may have a bit of a lead time to prepare for innovative learning modalities in the “new normal.” Whether that is sufficient time or not remains to be seen.
The discovery of vaccines should not be a requisite for schooling, says the Teachers Dignity Coalition (TDC), recognizing that there are several modes of delivering education. However, the group also believes that a delay in the opening of classes will allow ample retooling for teachers while education stakeholders set up a new school system for the “new normal.” Within the delay, Congress may also start discussing proposals to amend the law that mandates class opening in June and August, the TDC said.
The DepEd had launched in March this year the “DepEd Commons,” an online platform supposedly to support distance learning modes. It was the agency’s way to back its Open Education Resources program, an open shop of sorts for teachers and students with references created by subject experts.
These initiatives, of course, didn’t have the pandemic in mind. They were all part of a big wave of reforms that needed to be done if our education sector was to catch up with a technology-driven future.
The idea of “blended learning” and “flipped classroom” have been around all these years, and yet stuck in the haze with sluggish progress for a deluge of challenges—lack of internet connection, no enabling devices for all, lack of learning resources, insufficient computing skills among students and teachers alike, to name a few.
And then came the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus simply exposed in the most radical way just how behind our educational system is in the country.
That we are scratching our heads on whether to open classes this August or not and in what mode of learning should be taken in the midst of a “new normal” laid bare our insufficiencies.
Remember our students’ poor performance in last year’s Program for International Student Assessment survey in the aspect of reading comprehension? It was not because our students were poor readers, explained the DepEd, it was because the tests were conducted in an online, interactive platform that disoriented many of our students.
Perhaps, a postponement will give our DepEd time to iron out, once and for all, a system that will allow a multitude of learning modalities while we retool our teachers for the big leap into the future of education.
“Laro na lang muna,” to use the President’s line, but while the kids are at play, we can review our educational system and spruce up for the new normal.