Great sacrifice for education

Brothers and sisters, the first day of classes in our public schools has passed, and the opening of this school year is quite different. It started in October instead of June, which was the usual start of the school year for students. Because of the pandemic, school opening was supposed to be moved to August, but in accordance with President Duterte’s memorandum, the Department of Education changed the date. According to DepEd, the number of enrollees reached almost 25 million for school year 2020-2021; this is equal to 89 percent of those enrolled in the previous school year, which means, the number of students enrolled was less than last school year, although it was expected that more students would enroll this year since the enrolment period was extended.

But what is even more different is the way students would study because they would no longer go to school. Because of the Covid-19 pandemic, face-to-face classes are prohibited, and children are still not allowed to leave their homes. DepEd immediately addressed this challenge by implementing what is called the blended or distance learning with the use of different modalities or processes. There are modules that can be printed or in digital form; there would also be classes to be held online or through television or through radio.

And this new way of learning is truly a great adjustment not just for the students, but also for their parents and teachers.

Parents hastily purchased gadgets that their children need for online learning, but many families cannot keep up—children from poor families, and those who live in faraway places without an Internet connection. There are printed modules distributed by DepEd, but the quality of learning would be different among students who use either online learning or those using printed modules. Parents are also expected to guide their children in studying through the use of modules, but this is quite difficult for mothers and fathers that need to work or do house chores. This wouldn’t be any easier for parents that did not go to school. We see now the sacrifice of parents that, as said by Pope Francis in the Amoris Laetitia, their most serious duty is to give their children proper education.

This is also a new challenge for our teachers. Their ways of teaching and evaluating the learning of those they teach will be far different from before. Some of them have no proper gadgets and fast Internet as well. In other places, teachers need to learn how to teach in front of a camera—they are what we call teacher-broadcasters that will use television and radio in order to teach. In the regions, our teachers need to travel long distances to deliver copies of printed modules to their students. Teachers really are heroes.

Brothers and sisters, everyone is making great sacrifices for the sake of education because of the changes brought by this disease that we could have prevented from worsening if our government took timely action. These sacrifices are signs of giving education importance—as said in the book of Proverbs 16:16, “How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!” The government must equally give great support and recognize these sacrifices.

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