Learning from home. This is the “new normal” that Senator Win Gatchalian sees for School Year (SY) 2020-2021 that will ensure the safety and continued education of the country’s more than 27 million learners amid the threat of COVID-19.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Basic Education, Arts and Culture said that with the opening of classes in August, students and teachers would still need to maintain social distancing measures to slow down possible virus transmission in schools. For Gatchalian, this would entail allowing only a maximum of 20 learners in a classroom who can come to school on staggered schedules.
Gatchalian emphasized, however, that going back to school does not necessarily mean face-to-face learning because even when learners do not report to classrooms, they should continue their lessons at home with the help of flexible learning modalities, including online platforms, television, radio, and printed materials.
He said that the mix of digital, low-tech, and no-tech methods will help the Department of Education (DepEd) reach all learners, especially those in the far-flung areas without access to the internet. Since not all learners have connectivity and available gadgets for online-based learning, the senator said that television and radio will be key to reaching more learners nationwide.
According to a 2019 study conducted by Dataxis, a global firm specializing in media business, 18.7 million households in the Philippines still watch television and still the preferred medium of 93 percent of Filipinos. Under Republic Act No. 8370 or the Children’s Television Act of 1997, television stations are mandated to allocate a minimum of 15 percent of its daily total airtime for child-friendly shows. Global media intelligence firm Kantar Media’s 2019 Media Trends Study also revealed that up to 52 percent of Filipinos still own a radio.
While Gatchalian sees a more prominent role for traditional media in DepEd’s Learning Continuity Plan, he proposes that the number of subjects be reduced only to the core subjects such as Math, English, and Science to name a few. He also added that DepEd should build partnerships with state-run media organizations such as the People’s Television Network (PTV-4) and the Radyo ng Bayan to air these learning materials.
“Marami pa rin sa ating mga mag-aaral sa buong bansa ang hindi nakakagamit ng internet, kaya malaki ang potensyal ng radyo at telebisyon upang maipagpatuloy natin ang edukasyon sa loob ng ating mga tahanan. Sa pagpasok ng SY 2020-2021, mahalagang magamit natin lahat ng paraaan upang maipagpatuloy ang edukasyon ng ating mga kabataan at mapanatili ang kanilang kaligtasan.” said Gatchalian.
Gatchalian concluded that the time leading to the opening of classes should focus on preparing teachers, parents, and learners on using different tools for home-based learning.