Thursday, December 02, 2021

Lobaton: Why force face-to-face classes?


IN THE second week of November, the Department of Education (DepEd) will pilot face-to-face classes (F2F) to some of the areas with lower cases of coronavirus disease (Covid-19). The testing will run from November 15 and will end on January 31 next year.

The DepEd initially would like to implement this to more than a hundred schools public and private, but 29 so far had withdrawn. The DepEd is pursuing this testing and will increase the number of schools in March next year depending on the situation.

This move is based on the questions of quality in the transmission of knowledge through flexible learning. Something that relates quality with some reports that students are not the ones answering modules given to them by their teachers. This makes an impression that flexible learning might not be effective.

The DepEd already made attempts in the past to implement F2F learning, but President Rodrigo Duterte did not approve it based on the recommendations of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID).

Some officials at the national level agreed to the proposal to pilot the testing on some areas despite the threats of Covid-19 and its variants.

The government realized it is time to pursue face-to-face classes because we are one of the few countries that have not yet implemented this in our schools.

This move by the national government seems to draw appreciation on the part of our institutions that keep on searching for innovations in the light of this pandemic. At least they don’t impress on the people that they are static structures in a very dynamic situation and that the contribution of each one is valuable.

On the other hand, how we wish this move passed through proper evaluation and discernment by our officials.

I think it should be basic to our implementation to look at all angles. While getting the figures down in the communities might be the only basis, it could help to preserve the number of cases at a lower level by not promoting the gathering of children or individuals.

The DepEd said that this will employ a different approach not similar to the face-to-face before the pandemic. This means the teachers would be doing extra jobs other than the delivery of instruction to the children because they also have to monitor the health condition of the students while implementing minimum health standards.

It would sound absurd to say this is a trial-and-error process but getting into this situation is a risk. Although the DepEd appealed for the support of parents to send their children as participants, the government is making a dangerous move for its people. As we know, social gathering is prohibited because that is the source of the transfer of the virus from one host to another. That is the reason why I can’t understand this move to force the implementation of face-to-face delivery of instruction when the state of our fight against Covid-19 is not yet clear.

In reflection, this is how our government looks at the lives of people. Subjecting them to the test is simply exposing their lives and family to the dangers of Covid-19, without the assurance that their expenses once hospitalized will be shouldered by the government.

Supposedly, because they knew that this situation is still unstable, they should study the modes of the delivery of instruction. In fact, in the new normal, there is a need to change the approach and they should analyze whether the approaches of the past remain useful today while parents and children are finding ways not to learn, but simply survive.

This is similar to many offices that implement the kind of policies where their workers need to report to the office regularly even though there is a rise in the number of cases. They have failed to embrace the reality of the threats that getting everyone to work physically in the office is still important than his survival.

In the macro view, this shows the fragmentation of ideas on how to get into what we want as a society and people. The reality is that this is only in education as a social institution.

Try to look at other social institutions like the government and family. Do they function according to what we call social balance? Or do their dynamics also contribute to the uncertainty of the future?

Someone was right to suggest holding the officials accountable once something happens to the children and their families in the light of these face-to-face classes.


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