One of the sectors greatly affected by the coronavirus pandemic is education.
To make sure that learning remains unhampered as the country battles the pandemic, the Department of Education (DepEd) will be implementing a distance learning approach when classes start on August 24. (READ: How other countries are reopening schools during coronavirus pandemic)
The decision to open schools in the middle of the health crisis was met with criticisms. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education ‘only for those who can afford’)
Parents and students had criticized the DepEd's decision, as the finances of households have been affected by quarantine policies. Some questioned the soundness of the policy as some households don't even have access to the internet or a computer. (READ: No student left behind? During pandemic, education ‘only for those who can afford’)
Meanwhile, the DepEd maintained that lack of access to technology should not be a problem as schools will be providing printed modules for students. (READ: No need to buy gadgets, printed materials will be given – DepEd)
Undersecretary Annalyn Sevilla said that DepEd is asking help from local government units to hand out surveys in their areas.
During a press briefing on May 28, DepEd Undersecretary Nepomuceno Malaluan said that a decline in enrollment was "for certain" as some parents might be unable to facilitate learning at home. (READ: Decline in enrollees: Parents cite finances, doubts about distance learning)
As preparations for this year's school opening are underway, Rappler takes a look at the distance learning approach of the education department and defines the terms being floated.
Distance learning. This is a learning delivery mode where interaction takes place between the teacher and the students who are geographically remote from each other during instruction. This means lessons will be delivered outside the traditional face-to-face setup.
During a virtual presentation on Saturday, May 30, Malaluan said that distance learning will be delivered to students “in the comfort and safety of their homes.”
Malauan listed 3 methods that will be used for distance learning.
For students who don't have access to gadgets and the internet, printed modules will be delivered to them or picked up by their parents at designated areas within agreed schedules.
For students who have access to the internet, the department’s DepEd Commons will be used. DepEd Commons is an online education platform developed by the government agency to support alternative modes of learning.
Lessons will also be delivered via radio and television. Last May, the DepEd said that Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar had offered government-run television and radio stations as platforms for delivering lessons during the pandemic.
During Saturday’s virtual briefing, the DepEd said that radio-based instruction will use the self-learning modules or the printed learning materials which will be converted into radio script.
Homeschooling. This is another idea being floated as an alternative learning mode. This aims to provide students with equal access to quality basic education through a home-based environment to be facilitated by qualified parents, guardians, or tutors who have undergone relevant training. The policy for this is under review.
In an earlier press briefing, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones said that homeschooling is being allowed by the department "because there are parents who believe that the mother or the lola (grandmother), or the father can be more effective as a teacher than perhaps the formal school system."
While homeschooling might be an option at this time where everyone is advised to stay home to curb the pandemic, Briones said that the department was carefully still studying and evaluating its implementation.
On Thursday, May 28, the DepEd said it will come up with specific guidelines on how distance learning will work in the coming days.