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Rough Cuts| What we and the VP have in common

 

Here again comes Corona Virus Disease 2019 (CoViD 19) pandemic, the spoiler of every most anticipated events in all places in the world. Davao City of course is included among those deprived of the opportunity to celebrate.

 Yes, last March, all that were accomplished in the preparations that started late in 2019, suddenly had to be abandoned because the local government officials decided to scrap the Araw ng Dabaw celebration. The main activities were scheduled in the second week of that month.

 There were so many expectations not only by Davaoenos but also by those from other places who made attendance to the Araw fest their habit.

 But we and the many others who missed the Araw festivities did not expect that the pandemic will last this long and apparently still does not have clear exit time table. Hence, many were hoping that by the time the next major festival in Davao City – the Kadayawan sa Dabaw scheduled this August – will not suffer the same fate as the cancelled “Araw.”

CoViD 19 though has remained intense in its infection rampage. As of last Thursday the number of people infected all over the country already breached the 85 thousand mark two days before the month’s end, the time table set by a group of University of the Philippines statisticians for the cases to hit the figure.

Thus, last Thursday, the City Government officially announced it is cancelling the Kadayawan Festival for the simple reason that CoViD 19 is still very much prevalent in the area.

Good thing that the preparations made by the city for the occasion were just set in blue print and have remained on the table yet. So, not many efforts, time and money have been wasted.

However, many will agree with us that like the cancelled Araw ng Dabaw, the setting aside of the Kadayawan this month is another big opportunity lost for the city. That is, in terms of tourism income and the chance of marketing the city as a major tourist destination in the country.

  The non-pursuance of the Kadayawan festival is also a big loss in terms of vehicles for showcasing the culture of Davaoenos to the people from other areas of the country and the world.

 And from the current situation of the global health pandemic, the still unsuccessful discovery of vaccines against the virus, and of course the absence of medicine for the deadly disease, the likelihood is that CoViD 19 will still be in our midst even until the year 2021.

And this assumption of ours is strengthened by the pronouncements of the World Health Organization (WHO) and the pharmaceutical community that the most advanced of the vaccine search is still on the third clinical trial stage with testing on humans still to be completed.  

The timetable for the possible mass manufacture is still January next year. And it’s not even certain.

And knowing that it is not given free to any country requiring for it, then the next hurdle is for our government to find money to acquire the vaccine from the manufacturing country.

 So the strong possibility is that the 2021 Araw and Kadayawan celebrations will still be put on hold. But let’s keep our fingers crossed.

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Somehow there is one recommendation from Vice President Lenie Robredo on the aspect of pursuing education under the present CoViD 19 pandemic in the country that seems to jibe with our own suggestion to councilor Pilar Braga. The councilor is chair of the Committee on Education of the Sangguniang Panlungsod of Davao City.

In the current plan of the Department of Education (DepEd) classes for school year 2020-2021 that start on August 24 this year, will be done through on-line, through modular scheme, or through blended strategy. This is so because the risk of students getting infected if face-to-face classes are to be held is too big to ignore.

Under the online and blended schemes of classes the biggest problem to be hurdled by both DepEd and the students is the lack of e-learning gadgets like laptops and table top computers, as well as mobile phones that have applications that can be used for the on-line teaching and learning. Another problem is the absence of telecommunications signal and electricity in a number of areas in the country more particularly in the rural villages.

On the other hand, in the modular scheme, parents, mothers more specifically, will be playing a gargantuan role in implementing the learning procedure. And it is beyond arguing that most parents in the rural, and even in urban areas, do not have the education level that will allow them to be effective teachers to their children based on the pre-designed curriculum.

But the bigger concern is lodged on the on-line classes where the lack of gadgets for the students is beyond question.

The Vice President’s recommendation is for the government (DepEd) to put up internet hubs in areas identified as wanting in internet services and students in need of on-line gadgets. It is in those hubs that students without the learning equipment will go and join the on-line classes. But unless there is strict implementation of CoViD prevention protocols, the risk of infection still prevails.

Our own suggestion to councilor Braga is to goad the city government to procure computers commensurate to the number of students who do not have the gadgets in every barangay of the city. In coordination with the DepEd City Division the city then issues the computers to the schools concerned and for the latter to design a scheme where the students without computers and other e-learning aids will be divided in numbers and allocated based on the school days in a week.

The units can be set up in the rooms on a per grade basis and the students be made to report based on the apportioned number of computers.  

Of course, all the preventive measures against CoViD infection must be put in place with the DepEd and City Health authorities given the authority to monitor the school administration’s compliance.

This way, we believe, the DepEd, or the local government will not have to worry of additional expenses for putting up of the internet hubs as recommended by the Vice President.

                                                                                 -30-

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