By Carlos Jimwell Aquino

Cartoon by Lairah Nadine De Guzman

Schools shut down in compliance with the restrictions due to the coronavirus that is still paralyzing the country since March 2020. Months later, education sectors pushed through the opening of classes, and it started to shift in an unfamiliar space setup. Online and modular distance learning has become the standard norm in teachers' and students' lives. However, this system seems to be rigid and not ideal for both of them. 

For most of the students, this new pedagogical method has brought additional burdens that exacerbate their learning situations and their respective lives. It is about the dilemmas that seem anchored from the struggles they are still facing, such as providing internet services and having a conducive environment to focus on their studies. Some said that they just enrolled because they do not want to be left behind and more of them do their school work for the sake of completion without learning at all. As a result, the chances of actual learning subsided as this setup seems to be all about compliance.

This kind of learning approach is inflexible, for it does not fit all the students. Everyone has different capabilities and styles to learn, so many still have difficulty absorbing the lessons that lead some of them to lose interest. They do not choose but to settle for online educational or tutorial videos, especially for students taking skill-based programs that need facilities or resources they cannot easily afford. Most of the students do not have devices to perform their tasks, still having hard times to achieve expectations and really feel tired right now. In the latter part of it, their mental health is also exhausted and could be at risk as they cope with these learning requirements.

With those facts, we can say that education quality may have dropped because of this learning system. It does not mean that the efforts poured out on this were not appreciated, but it is just that learning should not be this way. It did not just affect the students and their parents' well-being, but it also became a nightmare for most of their teachers.

Some people are blaming the teachers for this new normal approach since they are the ones who are responsible for the student's learning. However, it is not their fault considering that this method seems to be defective from the start. It is observable that most teachers became considerate, yet just a few of them forget to be good to the point that it seems that their expectations are not really achievable this time. But if we look at the abyss reason, teachers are also vulnerable and seem oppressed. 

Teachers perform their duties for the sake of meeting their superiors' deadlines. They are forced to do their jobs which causes them to look oppressive to the students as well. They also struggle to reach out to their students, but they lack due to the social factors that hinder their goals. This method seems to be more draining and stressful.

Consequently, we can see ourselves as a group under an unsure experiment. Education should be constructive, but rather it became more depressing.

 With that, the government, especially the education sectors, should be more well-aware of those situations and should not deny that this new norm has many weak spots. They are the ones who are accountable to give not only band-aid solutions but concrete plans and comprehensive policies in times of crisis. They should leg up the students and teachers, provide the necessary resources, and build a support system for them. We have been working on it for months, and we still have hard times attaining the quality of education that we deserve. Everyone becomes afraid to pass the school year without learning at all. So, if they still refuse everyone’s calls, education will still become a pandemic itself.