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Pandemic’s grave effect on education

The pandemic has severely crippled the global economy – with conspiracy theorists blaming China intentionally released the virus to subdue its arch enemy the US by conquering it not my military might but through an invisible weapon – with nations attempting to restart businesses by any means possible.

The Philippines has earned the title of country with the longest lockdown and yet Malacanang insists lifting the quarantine is not an option in the near future while focusing on relaxing business restrictions in the midst of a second wave.

New infections are averaging 2,000 a day and yet more businesses are being allowed to resume operations. The tourism industry is aching to re-start resorts, hotels and restaurants. Airlines have started offering promo fares.

But assurances from entrepreneurs of compliance to quarantine protocols seem not so convincing. With infection numbers rising, the fear remains real. 

The shift of the epicenter to Cebu indicates pasaways are not restricted to depressed communities in Metro Manila. They now number among affluent Cebuanos.

And while Filipinos sighed relief at the relaxation of protocols for celebrating Masses, the biggest surprise was getting sideswiped by Congress’ epic denial of ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal.

Despite the media network’s power and influence, Duterte’s wish prevailed. One more company closure with thousands more out of jobs.

With attention on media, tourism, transport, health care, one sector not getting enough support is education.

UNESCO reported that up to 9.7 million school children around the globe who are affected by the closure of schools are at risk of never going back to the classroom.

At the onset of the pandemic, more than 1.6 billion youngsters – or 90% of all students around the world – were shut out of schools and universities.

Many of these school children from poor communities particularly from Third World nations will not be able to afford online schooling.

The Philippine education department’s blended learning program will need much government funding to succeed. The request of public school teachers for internet allowance is basic and yet funds are nowhere to be found. What more for wifi connection costs, computers, visual aids, digital modules and other paraphernalia.

Before the pandemic, rising tuition fees led to an exodus of students from private to public schools. Starting next month, public school students must brace of additional online learning expenses.

Learning though is not restricted to textbook lessons. Social interaction is integral to a child’s growth and development. That cannot be taught online.

Teachers will have a tough time getting students’ attention when they are at home where they can easily be distracted.

There is a huge challenge to cope with our children’s education in this time of the pandemic. We simply cannot rely on government to help us on this.

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