Private schools are also in the red in this pandemic. Based on the data from the Department of Education, only 27% of students in private schools last year re-enrolled this year.
Loss of their parents’ job is the obvious reason for the drop in private school enrolment. My cousin Toni Rose whose husband is a nurse in Saudi Arabia attests to this. Four classmates of his youngest son, an incoming Grade 3 student, transferred to public school. Their parents are mostly seafarers who lost work. They contend that since online learning will be adapted in both public and private schools, there is not much difference in the quality of education.
This is the same situation shared by my friend Daisy who teaches in a public school. She said almost 300 students from the nearby exclusive girls’ school transferred to her school. While Tina’s sister, a private school teacher, said half of her class did not enroll but she has no idea where they transferred. Again, the students left private school because their parents lost their jobs.
Me and some of my middle class friends are very grateful that we managed to keep our jobs during this crisis so our kids will continue to study in private schools. But since this is the first time that online learning will be utilized in both public and private schools, we are wary of the challenges that this new system will bring forth.
Key to survival
Mommy Manel and Daddy Mark has three kids with ages 10, 9 and 2. All are enrolled in private schools this year. With no household help and both on full-time work, how can they survive in a home that has been transformed to a school?
Time management and organization are their keys to survival since the lockdown in March. For about a month, Mommy Manel and Daddy Mark had some sort of practice in this new learning setup when school was suddenly shifted online and their kids in elementary still had to finish some school requirements.
They immediately reconfigured their veranda and living room as two office and school spaces with a play area nearby. All these spaces are in close proximity for easier supervision of the kids. To ensure that school activities and office work schedule do not overlap, they trained their kids to handle gadgets for online learning. They purchased new electronic gadgets to make sure that each child has one.
On meal preparations, Mommy Manel chooses easy to cook meals for the entire day with food delivery service from time to time. Space clean-up after office and school activities is not a problem because she has trained the kids to clean-up at the end of each day.
It took a while for Mommy Manel to train her kids to have a fixed routine particularly on sleeping habits. Right now, they all sleep and wake up at the same time after weeks of practice. To counter boredom, she incorporates spontaneous activities for the kids.
For Daddy Bobby and Mommy Carol who has an incoming Grade 7 and first year college students, their creativity and resilience mark their adaptation to the new normal with fantastic insights and solutions to problems that they have already executed too. Between their two kids, their primary concern is the youngest who has to adapt to this new way of learning.
Like Mommy Manel, Daddy Bobby also created a virtual classroom in their house last month. To save on costs of a new laptop, he sourced from a direct supplier who gave him a 30% discount. He has also anticipated possible internet interruptions, so he has a roll over data plan as backup for his land-based wifi.
With the IT infrastructure in place, Daddy Bobby’s next concern is to make sure that his son will really study and not gallivant online during class hours. Being an IT expert, Daddy Bobby conducted website filtering in his wi-fi router. He advised parents to consult their internet service providers for technical assistance if they want to do the same.
But Daddy Bobby has other concerns that he feels are beyond control. For one, he feels sad for his son who will not experience interacting with his classmates on his first day in high school. He hopes that the school will provide opportunities for the students to work together in performance tasks so they will still learn the value of team work.
Mommy Marissa and Daddy Sam, on the other hand, have kids in senior high school and college. Other than the physical problems like heat because the house is not airconditioned, and noise in the community that might disturb them while studying, they are confident that their sons are already mature enough to carry out their school responsibilities even under a new setup.
She said that the schools provided a portal which parents could access anytime to monitor their kids’ progress. But at the end of the day, regardless if the teachers and parents collaborated closely, Mommy Marissa said learning rests on a child’s own perseverance, so it boils down to discipline.
Middle class families put a premium on education. We value school achievements because we know that a university degree is our only way to improve our lives since we were not born with a silver spoon, so to speak.
So while many of our kids have left private school due to this crisis, we will still push to raise educational standards in whatever way we could regardless of how much money we have right now.