I was staring at the five by four-inch screen of my mother’s phone, which I just borrowed for my 11am class schedule. It was odd, not-so-long ago, I was staring straight into my professor’s eyes, with the mindless ‘academic’ chatter of my block mates around me as she discussed the chemistry of water. Right now, it wasn’t much of a difference, she still discussed; all able-to-attend thirty-two Food Technology Block B students, seven of which were absent—all of which are unable to connect.
It was still the same, our same professor last semester, only were my classmate’s usual chatters were muted by the distinctive tiny red microphone icon, our faces concealed behind our google accounts’ profile pictures, the only sounds were the occasional static and choppy voice of madam Azotea.
Instead of the usual classroom setting, we were staring at a device on our hands, or in front of our faces with the slideshow of the lesson presentation flashing before us. Our peripheral visions were the settings of our house—not the block mates and the classroom we are all accustomed to.
It was no different than before, we were attending school, only it was virtual this time. It was still the same, but are we really learning as before?
Ever since the coronavirus crisis had taken its toll throughout the Philippines, classes were forced to suspension as part of the preventive measures to contain the contamination of the deadly SARS-COV2 virus, widely known as the COVID-19.
Schools were forced to close with some authorized the continuation of classes online. Almost five months into the imposed lockdown of almost all establishments throughout the country, and the education put on a halt, the COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t still gone down. Instead, the numbers were still soaring high, casualties still increasing and the effect on the economy is as growing as ever.
This leads to Bicol University’s decision to open the classes through online mode. The university envisions the convenience of the virtual classes as the pandemic imposes multiple risks of physical classes if it should be implemented.
However, that single solution created branches of problems associated with the implementation of online learning—which was envisioned to be fitting these times.
Due to different geographical locations of majority of the students in Bicol University, including me, the main problem we are facing is the internet connectivity. Along with it are the scarce availability of devices that are suitable for online mode of learning.
I always fantasized before, in the middle of breakdowns and stress of school works, how convenient would it be if I didn’t have to attend classes; just passing school works online and not having the need to physically attend and pretend and exert energy for the physical classes.
But I never imagined that it would be this different though. Because this time, it’s not the stress and school pressure that made the online compliance ensue, but because of a pandemic.
The strict implementation of lockdowns prohibits a lot of things majorly impacting small-scale business. Businesses which are the main source of income of large percentage of students in Bicol University. Some student’s parents couldn’t be able to have income since the lockdown in early April was imposed.
With the online class needs gadgets and mobile load and other needs to be accessible, where will some of us afford sustenance to keep up with the academic year?
It’s as if the academic year now is a lot stressful than that of before.
The percentage of depression rates among students is now somewhat doubled, because of the pandemic stress combined with the online classes.
Local incidents were recorded as of present time, during the COVID-19 occurrence. In Sto. Domingo, Albay, a 21-year old student committed suicide last August 15. The reason behind, not being able to enroll. Another recorded case was a 19-year old Grade 8 student from Albay who took his own life because of the educational and financial pressure.
Calls for academic freeze is now widely encouraged, mostly by students who were suffering from the difficulties of online classes. But the Commission on Higher Education (CHED) continues to turn a blind eye despite the casualties and incidents.
Maybe they’re waiting for more insurgence and more fatalities, whatever reasons they have for not authorizing academic freeze, we don’t know.
Government should also seek for the well-being of students across the country, because if it’s not the virus that will kill us, surely, the education will.
Difficulties generated by this pandemic in the education sector wouldn’t fit a maximum of 600 words. So I’ll just leave it here.