Ilongga prof, students lament struggle of remote learning amid pandemic
A professor from Iloilo City took to social media her students’ struggle with taking part in online learning amid a coronavirus pandemic.
Hazel P. Villa, a College of Education professor at West Visayas State University (WVSU) in Iloilo City, shared in a Facebook post on Monday, Sept. 21, how she found out about the inconvenience that her students have been experiencing on the first day of their remote classes.
“Today (September 21), I cried during my first online class and I presume my students did, too, going by the emojis in the class group chat on [Facebook Messenger],” Villa stated in a lengthy Facebook post titled “Tears and Powerbanks on the First Day of Online Class (A Probinsyana Prof’s Narrative).”
Tears and Powerbanks on the First Day of Online Class (A Probinsyana Prof's Narrative)By Hazel P. VillaToday…
In her post, Villa shared the reason why they are not using video conferencing platforms such as Zoom or Google Meet: “Because our smart students cannot afford to buy load for that and many have connectivity issues but find a way out of it, and are only grateful that the university will give them tablets with their learning packets in all subjects already uploaded.”
In continuing her narrative, Villa mentioned a heart-rending story of one of her students who told her that day that his phone just had one bar left and that he might “disappear” from the chat room.
“I said he could always charge his phone, but then he said he had to walk one kilometer to do so,” Villa said, adding, “It turns out he was on top of a hill which was the only place where he and several other students and teachers in their sitio (hamlet) could find a signal and attend online classes.”
Eventually, Villa said four of the boy’s classmates also told her that they had similar situations: “Walking for a kilometer or two and more in the muck if it is raining hard. It came to such a point [when] one student said he brought along an old galvanized iron sheet to serve as his roof on the hill.”
“Another was lucky to have the father of a friend build a makeshift bamboo shed to protect him from the sun and rain, and still another, sheltered in a rundown waiting shed. All these, so that they may graduate as teachers to help young people in similar situations,” Villa added.
To somehow help the students with their online learning dilemmas, Villa told this story to her former student named Christine Florete, who is now a lawyer. Fortunately, Atty. Florete and a friend from the Cayman Islands offered them help and raised funds to buy powerbanks, which will be given to Villa’s students.
Villa’s post has gained over 1,400 likes, 891 shares and 57 comments, as of writing.
Aid to those who ‘conquer mountains’
In a separate Facebook post on Tuesday, Sept. 22, Villa shared an update showing the positive outcome of her intent to ease her students’ distress.
At around 2:30 P.M. on Tuesday, five powerbanks have already been donated by Atty. Florete and her friend to the WVSU College of Education. These powerbanks will be distributed to the students by the institution so they do not need to travel anymore to prevent the risk of COVID-19 infection.
According to Villa, good samaritans have also pledged more powerbanks, including scholarship grants for the other students, and even the Office of the Presidential Assistant for the Visayas also promised to look into the construction of solar panels in remote areas where the WVSU students converge.
Meanwhile, an executive of a major telecommunications provider in the country will also put up a broadband connection in one of the student’s houses, which will be shared with the other students in the area.
For those who would want to give financial help to the WVSU students, Villa said further instructions would be given as the state university has to abide by government procedures regarding accepting donations.
“[On] behalf of the WVSU’s hardworking teachers and smart, determined students conquering mountains literally and figuratively, God bless you all the more and to God be the glory for great things He has done,” Villa said.