The School Year for Public Schools in the Philippines Has Begun

The Philippines is one of the countries in Southeast Asia with a large number of COVID cases. Its president has ordered the suspension of in-person classes until a vaccine is available. The Department of Education, after postponing for several months, finally opened the school year with remote learning this past Monday. There is no doubt that a significant number of children would be left behind, especially those with very limited resources. In fact, it has been reported that about 3 million students did not enroll in this school year (more than 10 percent of the expected enrollment). The weeks leading to the school opening were marked with extremely tiring and challenging preparations. A day before the first day of the school, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers in the Philippines noted that materials were still being reproduced and collated by teachers from locally made learning modules as master copies from the central office of the Department of Education had not arrived yet. The photo below from the Associated Press shows two students sharing a smart phone as they participated in reciting the patriotic oath which signals the start of a typical school day in the Philippines.

Above copied from the Associated Press

As schools here in the United States have also reopened virtually, as we have all gone through grueling preparations for this pandemic school year, as we see how children and their teachers struggle around the world, it is important to look ahead.

We must likewise prepare for the time when we are finally able to meet each other in person. There will be likewise a lot of things to reflect on, not to mention, all the children left behind. But we must also look deeper at how important our teachers are. We must learn from these times how much a teacher really means to each and every child. During the pandemic, we are given the opportunity to explore creative ways by which we can help our teachers teach and our children learn. At least, we should take as much as that, from what we are currently experiencing. Most importantly, we must finally accept the fact that learning requires resources and therein lies one the reasons behind inequity in education. Some of us are fortunate enough to have a reliable connection to the internet. Some of us are lucky enough to have good devices our children can use for their learning. And some of us can even help our children learn. A lot of children, especially those in developing countries, do not.