High cost of blended learning


THE WAY I SEE IT | Susan Amoroso

Slow internet connection, load costs, modular risks bog down DepEd’s blended learning program were the main problems a single father like Junex faces in this trying time of the pandemic.

He said that he has to allot time, energy and personal attention aside from the internet costs which has been draining him physically , psychologically and financially.

Another parent said the government’s blended learning initiative has transferred the bulk of the teachers’ responsibility to the parents and guardians.

However, there is one plus factor claimed by an affluent retired father who is into his second marriage. He is thankful that now, with the homeschooling method , he does not have to drive his grade schoolers to class everyday . Because he has retired, he now has the time to attend to his children without the hassle of driving through heavy traffic daily.

Unfortunately for mothers and fathers who must work full time to pay the bills, they do not have the luxury of time and financial independence that this retired parent enjoys.

Heeding the directive of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte that there should be no classes until a vaccine for the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19) is available, the Department of Education has resorted to blended distance learning.

Despite the uncertainties on the effectiveness of a blended distance learning being pressed primarily by Education Secretary Leonor Briones, classes in public schools nationwide opened last Oct. 5.

Of the 24.7 million total enrollees, 22.5 million students are in public schools and 2.1 million are in private schools. This is 3 million lower than last year’s 27.7 enrollees.

However, with this evident declining number of enrollees, Briones drew flak for reportedly claiming victory over Covid-19.

Teachers and youth groups have assailed the “great victory” claim of the DepEd on the first day of classes because there is “nothing victorious about the school opening” – with education stakeholders struggling with the new ways of teaching and learning.

For the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines and the Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK), Briones’ statement is “premature” and “outrageous.”

“We are not claiming success of blended learning which is a learning modality older than I am,” Briones nervously explained before the President in a recent meeting.

She elaborated that in blended learning, various techniques are utilized and our teachers and “even those who are retirable are familiar with blended learning.”

But still the problems on slow internet connection, load costs and the risks of getting infected while getting the modules in schools weekly continue to hound the students, parents and teachers.

These problems, however, did not escape the attention of former Senator Ferdinand “Bongbong” Romualdez Marcos Jr.

He has proposed that the government and the private sector should find ways to provide allowances to students and teachers for their online classes.

“Kailangan siguro makahanap ng paraan na mabigyan ng allowance (sa prepaid load) hindi lang ang mga teacher kundi pati ang mga estudyante,” Marcos said as he lamented that a P300 prepaid load will not last long.
Marcos also pointed out the importance of a speedy and reliable internet connection in the “post-pandemic world’’ not only for the education sector but also for commerce.

Some mayors like Manila Mayor Isko Dumagoso have given the public school teachers laptops and loads. Manila public school pupils were given smartphones. Bacoor City Mayor Lani Mercado-Revilla announced the distribution of 885 laptops to teachers and 11,500 computer tablets to senior high school students in public schools.

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