Fewer students in online classes seen
MANILA, Philippines — As public schools brace for the second quarter of the school year in January, teachers like Nestor Reyes are lamenting the difficulties brought about by distance learning, which has forced some students to drop out of school.
Reyes, who teaches technology and livelihood education at Jose Abad Santos High School in Manila, said he had noticed that some of his students either abruptly stopped attending classes or did not show up for online lectures at all.
The top reasons, he explained, were the lack of access to gadgets and unstable internet connection.
“Our students are definitely having a hard time adjusting to distance learning. I myself am having a hard time. The main concerns here are internet connectivity, gadgets, and stress for students,” Reyes told the Inquirer in a recent interview.
“In fact, a lot of my students have not shown up since the beginning of the school year. In some cases, students are not able to finish online classes,” he added.
By the end of Reyes’ lecture, only around half of his 25 students were able to finish synchronous online classes.
3M out of school
While millions of students continue to endure the difficulties of the new learning systems, latest data from the Department of Education (DepEd) showed that only 25 million students were enrolled for school year 2020-2021, leaving nearly 3 million out of school.
The DepEd lowered its enrollment target this year to just 22.2 million, or 5.5 million short of the 2019 turnout, citing financial difficulties of families due to the new coronavirus pandemic.
Reyes, however, warned that the number of students who were unable to attend classes could increase in the succeeding quarters of the school year if the DepEd did not properly respond to the demands of teachers, students, and their parents.
Jocelyn, for instance, had to withdraw her 6-year-old son’s enrollment at a school in Caloocan City just two weeks after public schools reopened on Oct. 5 because she had to look for a job and help sustain their family.
“My son was stressed at home. As a mother, it was like I was studying his lessons, too. I could not leave him to study on his own because he does not know how to read or write yet,” she said.
By the third week of classes, Jocelyn had found a job and decided to forgo her son’s schooling to survive the economic slump triggered by the pandemic.
And even as she saw in-person classes as the more preferable and effective form of learning, she said she did not want to risk her son’s health. “I cannot send my son out to school like that when we have no assurance that the children will be safe,” she said.
Although the education sector was given the biggest chunk of the 2021 budget pie at P708.181 billion, Reyes stressed that “it was not enough” that the government allotted a huge sum.
“The budget needs to be sufficient to address the needs of students, teachers, and schools. We are not saying that the budget needs to be the biggest. It needs to be enough,” he said.
“This is why the right to education remains one of the most violated human rights in the country,” he added.
The DepEd did not respond to any request for comment. INQ
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