Evidence-based solutions for children’s education during pandemic | Inquirer Opinion
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Evidence-based solutions for children’s education during pandemic

/ 04:01 AM November 09, 2020

Almost a month since classes reopened in all public schools, an estimated 22 million children and youth have not been able to go to school to learn, play, and socialize with friends, schoolmates, and teachers because of the health risks of COVID-19.

Instead, learners began attending classes at home through various learning modalities such as distance, blended, or modular, as well as online and TV/radio-based instruction. Adapting to these learning modalities has not been easy. While attending online classes at home, children rely heavily on parents and guardians to support them.

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However, parents and guardians are also facing different challenges to make ends meet. Some have difficulties in their current work setup, while others have experienced loss of income and employment due to the lockdown and prolonged quarantine measures.

Most of the 800,000 public school teachers struggle with the technological difficulties of conducting classes on the digital platforms, compared to the ease of using blackboards and whiteboards. Teachers’ access to laptop and desktop computers, including internet connection, is also a major challenge in conducting online classes.

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According to the Department of Education (DepEd), at least 13 percent or 99,155 public school teachers have no computers at home. The DepEd also said that even for 687,911 teachers with computers at home, 41 percent or 280,531 of them do not have access to the internet, and 10 percent of them—71,128—said there is no internet signal in their area.

Amid all the challenges, children’s rights to inclusive and quality education, and to be safe from the health risks of COVID-19, must be fulfilled.

There are 1.6 billion learners globally, and 91 percent of them have been displaced from school, including children and youth from the Philippines, because of the school closures due to the pandemic. This is the first time in human history that an entire generation of children have had their education disrupted.

Going to school is critical for children, especially those living in the toughest places on earth. Classes may have resumed, but millions of children may not be able to return to school.

This year marks the 30th year of the Philippine ratification of the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. One of the guiding principles of the convention is for all governments to consider the best interests of children in all decisions affecting them.

The reopening of classes will meet the learning and well-being needs of children during these times. To ensure the success of distance learning during the pandemic, children, parents, and teachers must be provided with support through an effective feedback mechanism that will help the DepEd come up with context-based and evidence-based solutions.

The fulfillment of the rights of every child to education during the pandemic can be supported in three ways: keep learning during school closure through inclusive distance learning; support every child to return to school when it’s safe to do so; and build back better and more resilient education systems.

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Schools give children a sense of normalcy, and the routine of attending classes calms their souls amid adversities. Education gives children hope and empowers them to build better lives.

ALBERTO T. MUYOT
Chief Executive Officer
Save the Children Philippines
[email protected]

For more news about the novel coronavirus click here.
What you need to know about Coronavirus.
For more information on COVID-19, call the DOH Hotline: (02) 86517800 local 1149/1150.

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TAGS: Alberto Muyot, children's education, coronavirus pandemic, coronavirus philippines, COVID-19, distance learning, Letters to the Editor, online classes
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