“Learning new lessons and having fun with my classmates,” these were the answers of 15-year-old Arlene when asked about what she misses as a student.
For more than three months, Arlene’s village has been on community quarantine to fight the spread of COVID-19. The quarantine measures have affected her father’s earning as a farmer which resulted to limited food supply. Before, Arlene’s family enjoys a variety of vegetables and meat viands. Now, they rely on canned goods such as tomato sardines.
Everyday, the upcoming Grade 9 student cleans their house and reads books to kill time but not a day goes by that she doesn’t think of being inside a classroom with her friends.
When she heard about the news of class suspension, it broke her heart. “I am concerned about our education but I understand that it is for our safety,” said the young girl.
The Department of Education has presented a number of learning alternatives for students while staying at home – one of which is Distance Learning which includes online digital learning. “I learned from the news that we will have our classes using the internet. I am worried that I will not be able to participate in the online classes because internet signal is weak in our community and my parents can’t afford to buy internet load everyday,” Arlene discussed.
Other learning methods Department of Education (DepEd) proposed under its “Learning Continuity Plan” are Modular Distance Learning and TV/Radio-based Instructions under Distance Learning, Blended Learning Delivery, and Homeschooling Delivery.
A COVID-19 rapid assessment in the Philippines conducted by World Vision among its assisted areas, which cover 21 provinces nationwide, reports that majority of families interviewed anticipates challenges for the incoming school year. The most common challenges anticipated by the respondents are the lack of strong internet signal connection and the lack of available gadget.
The result also showed that families’ top choice of learning mode is still face-to-face but given the current situation of the country, other options have to be explored.
As a child-focused organization, World Vision aims to support school children during this time of pandemic. The organization and DepEd launched a fundraising campaign named “ABUTIN NA10: Para sa sampung milyong mag-aaral.” The raised funds will help support DepEd’s learning continuity plan and ensure that children’s learning is not disrupted. The funds will also be used to buy gadget and print instructional packets for school children without access to digital technology.
For Arlene, she remains hopeful where everything goes back to normal. “I always pray to God that the virus will no longer exist so that I can go back to school and see my friends,” she said.
Arlene’s community is under quarantine for three months due to COVID-19. She spends most of her time clean the house and read her books.