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Parents bear the brunt of distance learning as classes shift online

As students struggle with online learning, parents also carry the burden that comes with it. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education 'only for those who can afford')

Tringky Cortez, a mother of 4 who are all enrolled this school year, is disheartened by the new expenses for their kids now that they have to study from home. She works as a laundry woman while her husband is a security guard – and their pay is not enough to meet the requirements of distance learning, she told Rappler in an interview on Monday, October 5.

"Nakadagdag sa kuryente tapos mag she-share pa ako sa bayad sa internet. Nakadgadag siya ng hirap. Ibibili mo na nga lang ng [sana ng] pagkain. Ibibili mo na ng project, nakadagdag pa [ang bayad sa internet]. Ang hirap," Cortez said.

(It adds to the electric consumption [and] then I have to chip in for the internet bill. It's an added burden. The money could have been allotted for food. You have to allot budget for school projects, plus the internet bill.)

Cortez said that they only connect to the WiFi of their neighbor and share the bill with them. While the internet bill is a problem, stability of the connection is another issue.

"Nawawala 'yung signal. Baka akala [ng mga teachers] hindi sila present. Nahihirapan talaga sila.'Yung bunso ko hindi marunong. Wala naman ako alam sa cellphone na 'yan at [internet]," she said.

(Internet signal gets interrupted. Teachers might think that the students are not present. They really find it difficult to cope. My youngest doesn't know how to use technology. I even don't know how to use cellphone and the internet.)

On top of this, some students don't have anyone to guide their learning at home. This is the case of Jelyn Junio, who has two children enrolled this year.

"Nahihirapan ako kasi bilang isang ina nag ta-trabaho ako. Hindi ko po alam kung paano iga-guide ang mga anak ko. Ang nagbabantay lang po sa kanila ay ang lola nila na hindi po marunong sa internet at sa social media," Junio said.

(I'm really having a hard time because I am also working. I don't know how I will guide my children. Their grandmother is the only one looking after them and she doesn't know how to use the internet and social media.)

REMOTE LEARNING. Jelyn Junio shares the challenges that come with distance learning for parents like her

Junio said that during the first day of online classes, her son asked her about his lesson in Math.

"Number one agad sa Math ay about sa Algebra. Hindi ko rin po alam kung paano tuturuan ang anak ko. Kaya nawindang talaga kami," she added. (The number one item on Math is about Algebra. I don't know how ill I teach my son.)

To help her children, Junio said that she would call them from work to answer their questions.

"Ang nangyayare, tumatawag ako sa kanila habang nasa work ako. Ganoon na lang ang magiging daily routine namin," Junio said. (Our setup is, I would call them while at work. This would be our daily routine.)

Cortez and Junio could only hope that things will get better in the days ahead.

"Kung papapipilin ako, mas maganda ang face-to-face pero siyempre sa ngayon kasi hindi natin alam kung kailan matatapos ang pandemic," Junio said.

(If I were to choose, face-to-face is better but of course we have to consider that we're in a pandemic now and we don't know when will this end.)

On Monday, over 24 million students in the country started classes again in the middle of a pandemic. Despite issues experienced by students, teachers, and parents, Education Secretary Leonor Briones said that the school opening was a success. (WATCH: Empty classrooms as Philippines starts classes during pandemic)

Following President Rodrigo Duterte's directive for schools to delay face-to-face classes until a coronavirus vaccine becomes available, the Department of Education has shifted to distance learning. (READ: FAST FACTS: DepEd’s distance learning) – Rappler.com

Bonz Magsambol

Bonz Magsambol is a multimedia reporter for Rappler, covering health, education, and social welfare. He first joined Rappler as a social media producer in 2016.

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