CEGP asks Briones after student allegedly commits suicide over modules: Is this victory?
MANILA, Philippines — A student’s group has asked the Department of Education (DepEd) anew if they still consider the opening of schools a victory after a student from South Cotabato supposedly took his own life after struggling with modules.
The College Editors Guild of the Philippines (CEGP) said on Thursday that it was ironic for Education Secretary Leonor Briones to celebrate the opening of school year 2020 to 2021 as a victory against the pandemic — or the academic freeze — when students have been struggling to cope with inaccessible education modes.
DepEd was forced to switch to distance and blended learning systems due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as traditional face-to-face classes may put students at risk of local transmissions. However, a lot of students and groups including CEGP believe that the school year should have been suspended first.
“Kamakailan lamang ay may isang 16 anyos na mag-aaral mula sa Tupi, South Cotabato ang nagpatiwakal dahil sa dinadaing nitong kahirapan ng sa asignaturang Matimatika na mas lalo pang pinahirap ng kasalukuyang sitwasyon ng edukasyon sa ating bansa,” CEGP said in a statement.
(Just recently there were reports that a 16-year-old learner from Tupi, South Cotabato committed suicide because it experienced hardships in a Mathematics subject, which is further enhanced by the current education system in the country.)
“Kung sina Briones ay nagpupugay na sa paglulunsad ng pagbabalik eskwela, maituturing ba talaga itong tagumpay kung isa-isa nang binabawian ng buhay ang ating mga mag-aaral? it asked.
(If Briones is celebrate the opening of classes, can we really consider this a victory if students one by one commit self-harm?)
In her message for the resumption of classes last Monday, Briones said that this continuation of education is a victory against the coronavirus pandemic — a statement which she was ridiculed for as a lot of people are struggling against the effects of the health crisis.
In President Rodrigo Duterte’s message late that night, Briones clarified that her victory statement was meant for those advocating an academic freeze, or a suspension of the whole school year.
For its part, DepEd’s Schools Division of South Cotabato has extended its condolences to the family of the student, with Assistant Schools Division Superintendent Ruth Estacio assuring in a statement that they will conduct a probe on the incident.
“The division and school officials are currently coordinating with law enforcement and the student’s family members for a speedy and impartial investigation on the matter,” Estacio said.
“The Schools Division of South Cotabato would like to request for everyone to respect the privacy of the family during this very difficult and unfortunate time,” she added.
CEGP said that it is unthinkable how government officials manage to disregard the fact that a lot of students are struggling with these methods of learning.
“Sa ganitong kalagayan ng edukasyon sa ating bansa, paano natitiis ng mga kasalukuyang nakaupo na marinig ang mga ganitong balita at magkaroon pa ng lakas ng loob na magsabing tayo ay nanalo na sa laban sa gitna ng pandemya?” CEGP asked again.
(With this state of education in the country, how can current officials endure hearing these news and even have the gall to say that we are even winning against the pandemic?)
“Kung patuloy itong mangyayari at hahayaan lamang, hinding hindi magiging epektibo ang pag-aaral sa ganitong paraan at mas lalo lamang mawawalan ng interes ang karamihan na magpatuloy sa pag-aaral na maaring magpababa ng kalidad ng edukasyon sa ating bansa,” it noted.
(If these incidents continue and are merely brushed aside, the current methods of studying would never be effective and students would only lose interest in studying — which will lower the quality of education in the country.)
Aside from the lack of gadgets and unstable internet connections, groups have called for an academic freeze because of many students’ mental health status.
As the COVID-19 pandemic affected normalcy, bodies like the World Health Organization warned about a possible rise in mental illnesses, as the pandemic has taken a huge toll on mental health.
Before classes opened, several reports have been made about students engaging in self-harm out of frustration with the educational system. While both the DepEd and the Commission on Higher Education have expressed concern over these issues, not one has moved to suspend the current school year.
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