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Echoes from the Past

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Roughly fifteen years ago, an event was held at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC . The event was a discussion on a gloomy outlook on the current state of the Philippines then. Philippines president Arroyo just survived "Hello, Garci" with her allies in Congress succeeding in stopping her impeachment. A commentator for the event, Hazel McPerson, a professor of political science at George Mason University, stated that one of the reasons the Philippines finds itself in a quandary was a weak public educational system. Basic education in the Philippines has failed miserably that most poor children would miss out on benefits of a good government. That failure in education is so evident that we do not even know our history well enough to understand who we are and what we need to do in the present for future generations. History has a lot to tell us about the Philippines today. Unfortunately, we often look at Philippine history in segments and therefore miss the overarching lesson

Philippines' Basic Education Problems: COVID-19 and Beyond

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I still teach my class remotely. With a large class of more than a hundred students, it is very difficult to implement contact tracing in case a student in my class does test positive for the coronavirus. I do not like teaching remotely. I am not able to receive instant feedback by simply observing the expressions on my students' faces. The pandemic does bring some new challenges in both teaching and learning. The situation in the Philippines, however, is different. What the current pandemic has magnified are the same persistent problems basic education in the Philippines faces. With schools not having adequate restrooms or wash stations, it is not really easy to attend to the necessary hygiene measures. With crowded classrooms and high pupil to teacher ratios, it is not really possible to keep an eye on each student and maintain social distance. The lack of resources (school facilities and learning materials) exists even before the pandemic. And as important, children not finding

Schools Remain Closed in the Philippines

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While most K-12 schools in the United States have reopened to in-person classes this school year, the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) tells us that about 140 million children are still waiting for their first day to attend school. Among countries that have not reopened schools is the Philippines. The country is currently facing a surge in COVID cases and vaccination has only reached seventeen percent of the population. Above copied from PhilStar A teacher's group in the Philippines, Teachers' Dignity Coalition , recently criticized the plans of the Department of Education to hold webinars for teachers: Most schools were closed last year and we do have plenty of lessons to learn regarding what is important in both teaching and learning. In an article, " Adapting and Enduring: Lessons Learned from International School Educators During COVID-19 ", published in the Journal of Research in International Education, these lessons are summarized: Technology Access

Are We Ready for School?

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This school year is different from most years. Being ready for school is much more than just having the necessary school supplies and clothing. The COVID pandemic is still very much upon all of us. Without herd immunity, the spread of the coronavirus as schools reopen is highly likely. There are measures like requiring masks indoors but contingency plans are urgent as well. "What if?" is certainly an important question to consider. How we do things now tells a bit of how prepared we really are. Yesterday was the kickoff/open house at my son's high school and it happened with crowded corridors. My daughter's middle school also had an open house, but only for sixth grade students, thus, unlike in the high school, parents and students were not elbow to elbow. I am still scheduled to teach online at Georgetown University, as it is not possible to keep track of all students in a more than 100 person class in case contract tracing becomes necessary.  My son helping the Pare

Wearing Masks Is All We Need For Our Schools

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More than 1500 have signed a petition requesting Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) to offer an option for virtual learning. The course I am scheduled to teach in a couple of weeks at Georgetown University is still tentatively on a remote platform. With FCPS parents, there are two reasons behind asking for online learning. Children younger than 12 years old are not vaccinated, and with full capacity, social distancing is not possible. Why I still have to teach online in a university stands on only one reason, lack of social distancing in a class of more than 100 students. There is in fact data that can help address how to keep students and instructors safe from the coronavirus. Data from more than a million students and more than a hundred thousand staff show that "With masking in place, full, in-person instruction – is appropriate for all grades and all schools" . Above copied from Change.org Data that indicate the effectiveness of wearing masks in schools have been provi

Get the Vaccine and Keep Wearing a Mask

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They say, "It takes a village to raise a child". With the coronavirus pandemic, it takes the entire world to extinguish COVID cases. We are now just weeks before school starts and another wave of cases is imminent. Children have already missed more than a year of in-person schooling. The risk of school closures is once again with us in so many places in this world. It takes time to learn how we should address challenges. However, plenty of time have already passed and there is now clarity in what we must do. There are vaccines that are effective against this virus. We also know that wearing masks greatly curbs its transmission. Unfortunately, that is not the difficult part. What appears insurmountable is the fact that we all have to do our part. Above copied from MITMedical   The longer it takes for us to rise to this challenge, the greater the opportunity for the virus to mutate into a variant that can thrive even with vaccines. That, of course, brings us to an even more pre

"80% of Filipino children do not know what they should know"

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A failing basic educational system in the Philippines is no secret. International assessments clearly demonstrate this dire situation. Even the Philippines own national achievement test points to the fact that the educational system has worsened. A report from the World Bank is not really necessary to highlight this predicament. What is plainly imperative is for the Philippines administration to admit its dismal performance. Above copied from the Manila Times An educational system should be guided by science, by research, by assessments. Unfortunately, as in other fields of endeavor, there are charlatans. In addition, there are interests. The delivery of basic education, after all, is a giant enterprise. Thus, even when facts are clear, considerations outside of research become paramount. Thus, after the World Bank reports that "80% of Filipino children do not know what they should know", we see the following: Above copied from the World Bank Honestly, there are really no add