With the transition to online learning, students may not be given equal opportunity, educ stakeholders say

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, June 6) — Education stakeholders say that access to internet and other essentials needed for online learning may hinder some students to continue their education.

The Asian Institute of Management held an online seminar “Education Under the New Norm” on Saturday wherein stakeholders voiced out their concerns as the country’s education sector transitions to its new normal, online learning.

Catherine Alarzar, a teacher and mother from Camarines Sur, noted that her main concern is the students’ access to technology, especially the internet, since there are those who live in remote areas who do not even have access to electricity.

Schools in Bohol are also challenged by access to internet, Nalven Acenas, a senior high school coordinator the province said. This is despite their preparations towards the transition to the new normal.

Mothers Mariana Malecdan and Diana Nuñez also shared the same sentiment. Malecdan also noted that in order for students to attend online, each student must have his own gadget which would lead to additional expenses for the part of the parents.

As for Nuñez, the lack of access to essentials for online learning is very much evident in her area, Tondo, Manila. She noted that families will have to buy load in order to connect to the internet. Moreover, if ever modules will be sent online, children will not be able to have these printed since they are prohibited to go out.

Estelita Peña, a principal from a public school in Zambonga Sibugay, also noted internet connectivity and resources to purchase gadgets as the main challenge for students.

Education and Literacy Programs Director Peachy Abellon of Project Pearls, a non-government organization that provides education for the marginalized children like those in Tondo, said that even though they are still willing to support those in need, the organization’s ability to transition to the new normal may be limited in terms of budget.

Abellon said that in order for their learning centers to function, computers and printers must be purchased.

With the transition, teachers must be given enough training about the new method of teaching. Ateneo Teacher Center Director Rita Atienza said that teachers should be trained on how to “leverage the features of distance learning.”

“How do we leverage these features to help us focus on not what we will teach but what can students learn,” she said.

Atienza also noted the need to simplify the country’s curriculum. She said that the old way should not just be converted to the new way because this will only fail.

One World School Headmaster Ericson Perez said that the new normal should also be adjusted for children with special needs. Training is needed not only for teachers, but also for parents.

As for Fr. Nolan Que, trustee for NCR schools of the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines, the main concern that should be addressed is changing directions of the government. He said that leaders should coordinate with one another to come up with clearer directions as schools prepare for the opening of the new school year.

READ: Online classes still an option for August 24 opening, says DepEd

Schools had to stop operations mid-March as the country prevents the further spread of COVID-19 in the country. The government has already lined up programs for the new normal for schools. However, President Rodrigo Duterte has voiced out his doubts on the country’s readiness towards adopting distance learning. School year 2020-2021 is scheduled to resume on August 24.

READ: Are PH schools ready for virtual learning? Duterte has doubts