AS MUCH as social distancing has become a staple term in the time of this pandemic, so is the phrase distance learning. With the "new normal" mode of education advocated by the Department of Education, the traditional face-to-face classroom set-up will have to be set aside in the meantime. This, after President Duterte, emphasized that children must be safe from Covid-19 and that physical classes will only be allowed once a vaccine is ready.
This means that the primary delivery mode for educating children and youth will be distance learning. This will be possible with children staying in the comfort of their homes while accomplishing works and activities that allow the development of the most essential learning competencies or MELCS as determined by the DepEd. Further, under this modality, parents and guardians are expected to take on a big role in ensuring that the educational set-up is successful.
The concept of distance learning is not entirely new in the Philippines. With a few open universities offering distance education programs, this modality is doable and practical. I have personally experienced being a student under a distance learning modality, and I can say that it works mostly with printed modules and instructional materials being sent by the professor. Adults, who can manage their own time, can quickly get used to this type of education, but it might be a different thing for younger students at the elementary level.
With the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Indicator 4.2.3, which reflects "the percentage of children under the age of five who experience positive and stimulating home-learning environments", it is clear that the responsibility of parents and home companions of children is expected. Before a child is allowed to enter a formal educational facility or school, he or she needs to be taught first at home.
Unesco Institute for Statistics Director Silvia Montoya says that "the concept behind the indicator is explained in the SDG 4 Data Digest 2019. It rests on the premise that every caregiver in every home is responsible for creating a safe, stimulating, and nurturing environment for every child. Their positive interactions with children are vital to promote social, emotional and cognitive development. Children who feel valued and accepted are on course for healthy relationships, as well as academic and employment success."
While this indicator is primarily intended for children five years old and below, the Covid-19 pandemic has led us all to embrace this responsibility to all our school-aged children. While having an informal discussion with colleagues, I found out that parents of college students also feel that they need to still look after the well-being of their children who are mostly exhausted and overwhelmed by the voluminous school work now that the educational system has shifted into online learning.
As I have always mentioned during my interviews, now is the time that parents like me make it possible to give our kids the attention they need even while we are working. I know it is really difficult to manage time between work and home responsibilities, but now, more than ever, our children deserve our guidance and attentiveness in this time of the pandemic. With the hope that our government will be able to lay guidelines to empower working parents and enable them to attend to their kids' educational needs, I vow to ensure that education will continue for my kids.