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Editorial: Blended education as school year opens

“Life that is lost is lost forever. Courses that are not substantial can be supplemented. Education that is delayed can be recovered.
“We must implement online learning, modular learning, and TV- and radio-based broadcast, which students coming from different backgrounds can avail. DepEd will provide printed modules for those who cannot afford online learning.
“In support of the Learning Continuity Program through blended learning, we plan to increase the number of schools with ICT equipment in the coming months.
“The DepEd and the DICT are building up the Public Education Network or PEN that will connect all public schools and DepEd offices nationwide. We will prioritize the connection of all Last Mile Schools and those with no electricity supply can have it via satellite and energized via solar panels. By 2022, before I step down, the PEN shall be realized. I’m referring to the program. I will — I will do it.
-Excerpts from Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s 5th State of the Nation Address, July 27, 2020.
School opens next month amid the continued threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. At the local level, there were appeals made asking the city government to consider the health of the students as well as the capability of many to continue with their studies through online education. The pandemic has left in its wake too many families losing their source of income and unable to meet the demands of an online platform especially those enrolled in basic education.
In a privilege speech last July 21, Committee on Education chair Councilor Pilar Braga mentioned two major concerns as we prepare for a new mode of learning. She said that these two major concerns are: Internet connectivity, and the issue of the curriculum and educational materials that have to be adapted for use with a blended learning environment.
“Access to educational materials through the Internet is not worth much if the Internet itself is inaccessible due to lack of service or network infrastructure. Be it through provisions for budget, equipment, and commercial access to the Internet, much has to be done to improve digital connectivity throughout the country. It would also be important to fast track the implementation of RA 10929, the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, which mandates that public basic education institutions, state universities and colleges (SUCs), and TESDA technology institutions to have free Wi-fi access.
“As for the case of improving how blended learning can be unpacked and presented for our children, we have to call on and support an integral resource for the family-the parents. Indeed, parents and guardians must be empowered to help in the learning process of the students.”
These are challenges local government units have to work on.

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