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[Y-SPACE] #OnlineActivityUploading: The Online Education in the Philippines in the midst of Pandemic

by Philip Joshua D.C. Santiago

Education is one of the main important aspects of our life. Often says that it is the key to success by having knowledge and wisdom that you can bring, share, and light the darkness of times. Education makes us realize the importance of hard work and perseverance. We can share and shape the better society that we live in.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”. With that, we can see that education thrives to be an important and powerful weapon to create great significance.

In our culture and aspirations, Filipino parents tend to value education as they seem to be one of the most important treasures that they can impart to their children no matter what happens. Even the 1987 Philippine Constitution value the right to education and declares in Article XIV Section 1 that the “state shall protect and promote the right of all citizens to quality education at all levels and shall take appropriate steps to make such education accessible to all” (De Leon & De Leon, Jr., 2014). Furthermore, education is the right of every Filipino citizen. Similarly, the government education policies and programs have been primarily geared toward providing access to education for all. Hence, our country is committed to the World Declaration on Education for All (EFA).

However, when a simple ‘novel coronavirus’, later called “Covid-19,” was not immediately discovered in humans, it attacked the human race. Different sectors were struck and all countries around the world implemented a quarantine to prevent and stop the deadly virus. Hence, one of the affected sectors is education. It is disrupted as the deadly pandemic in contemporary time continues to threaten the life of every individual. Eloquently mentioned by the United Nations that education was one of the sectors that was merely and/or significantly affected by the deadly Covid-19 because the majority of the schools around the world are being closed. The education in which it is based on a traditional method, for instance, face-to-face classes, is being suspended for the safety of all the students.

Many learning educational institutions, such as colleges and universities, adopt the modern way of teaching through the innovative power of science and technology–an “online home class learning” or in simplest terms “online class education.” This setup becomes the basis in all education sectors to cope in the midst of the pandemic. An online learning education is a learning system that fully obtained the use of the internet and an electronic device, such as a cellular phone, laptop, or tablet. Often mentioned that it can be coherent as it can be accessed by students through different online platforms and applications.

The innovative idea of online class education learning faced many problems, specifically in developing countries like the Philippines.

One of the major problems is the lack of availability and resources. An Online class required an electronic device with a stable and strong internet connection. However, not all students can afford those requirements. Based on many data shown that the main cause of why students cannot enroll in this academic year is because of the financial problem. Poverty is prevalent and not a new perennial problem in the country since more than half of the population is below the country’s poverty line.

Another concern with this setup is the impact on the students and teachers. Although we cannot change the fact that most students are technology knowledgeable, some are not into it. Changing from a traditional method to an online platform method is not an easy task for everyone, especially in our country as we are being in the middle of development and coping with the pandemic era at the same time.

Online classes worsen the equality or gap between the rich and the poor. Since the pandemic hits the country, many schools are being forced to closed which limits the opportunity of the students to take courses that they want as there have very limited slots only. For some reason, this platform perceives that it is only for elite and wealthy people.

Eloquently stated by Magsambol (2020) that most of the students and parents cited a reason for not going to school is first their lack of access to the internet and technology at home. Another factor is their need to work to provide for the family. According to Kritz (2020), only a fraction of public schools, have access to the internet so they will not be able to meet the requirement of a stable connection. According to DepEd’s ICT Service Director Aida Yuvienco in an interview with “GovInsider,” last year during the hype of how online education work in public schools, the director stated that “only 26 percent of public schools are connected to the internet or can connect to the internet”, and they added that nearly 5,000 public schools in remote areas do not even have access to electricity. According to the article of Ilona Kritz (2020), the Philippines is far from being technologically advanced, being 83rd out of 138 countries in terms of digital readiness.

The development of technology helps us to resolve educational challenges due to the health crisis in a way that there are many platforms, tools, and applications out there. However, despite the tremendous and booming success of technology, most of the students in our country couldn't access it. Students don’t have enough resources that are needed in an online learning system. It is good that the innovative ideas in the contemporary world brought us a certain solution to unprecedented situation but looking for the other side, this divides our society because not all have the privilege to access those advantages. In this era of digitalizing and advancement, we must make sure that all students are not left behind as education is not merely a privilege but it’s a right of every individual.

We must think of a solution that is looking at both sides which characterize equal opportunities for all people in the society. Equity leads to equality that will provide and take the lead to equal opportunities for all. As the modern world continues to grow, the world of education is changing. However, it is important to remember that education shall be available to all equally as education is a golden treasure that cannot be robbed to us no matter what happens.

Philip Joshua D.C. Santiago aka ‘PJ’ is a 3rd-year Political Science student in Colegio de San Juan de Letran. He is simple but a witty one, and at the same time, a consistent Dean’s lister at the Colegio. He describes himself as ‘Invictus’ which means ‘undefeated’ and his personality as ‘gold’ because it is ‘indestructible’ but with a love of knowledge and his mind full of wisdom.

YSPACE is a platform open for young writers to contribute their worth-sharing thoughts and stories to the world. It is a space for young people and by the young people which aims to promote a strong sense of empowerment and inspiration to young Filipinos.

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