By Robert B. Roque, Jr.
Learning should be fun. But we have to admit that the coronavirus pandemic has robbed our young learners of campus life – a big part of what makes formal education an enjoyable experience.
This became evident when classes in public schools opened last week, amid challenges that overwhelmed many students and parents.
From the get-go, the Department of Education (DepEd) made it clear that parents and guardians have a more significant role in teaching students this academic year as classes are held not in school, but inside the house.
In a previous column (Sept. 10, 2020), I tackled the issue of homework and performance tasks or PTs (in private schools) extensively to point out how excessive school assignments can take their toll on a child’s health and pull them away from equally-important family-oriented activities.
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I am pleased that the DepEd has pledged to remind teachers to follow DepEd Memorandum No. 392 on giving homework. Issued in 2010, the homework policy advises elementary school teachers to limit the number of assignments on weekdays, and no assignments must be given on weekends.
This corner strongly enjoins all private schools in the country to follow suit.
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Last Friday, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones bewailed the publication and sharing of “fake photos” of teachers trying to get a better internet signal on the roof of a public school in Batangas to highlight problems on the opening of classes last October 5.
The photos made their way to newspapers, mainstream news websites and circulated in social media, painting a “sorry state” of distance learning in the country. Militant teachers groups had taken advantage of the situation to hurl more pointed accusations of incompetence at the DepEd.
I believe Briones and the DepEd should be commended for having even opened School Year 2020-2021, with less than half a year to prepare a total shift to this distance-learning curriculum amid the life-threatening risks posed by the pandemic.
I believe it was a fine job to have launched the academic year with 22.5 million students enrolled in 47,000 public elementary and high schools nationwide with three options for blended education – online, modular, and TV/radio broadcast.
I’m not saying there are no problems in education or that these real problems could be ignored. But the accomplishments of the DepEd in such a short time prove that it is not sleeping on the job. In fact, it speaks volumes of its capability to solve the other issues, especially teachers’ concerns.
Might I mention for clarification that the photos of the teachers on the roof dramatizing their difficulty in getting a signal were taken at the Sto. Niño National High School in Batangas, where cell sites in the vicinity actually provided a variably strong internet and mobile reception, according to telecoms firms.
Whoever cooked up that publicity stunt did not do his homework.
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