Students face lack of gadgets, unstable connections in online education

Students face lack of gadgets, unstable connections in online education

Two young students use their laptops while out in the field to continue their education online despite the coronavirus pandemic and prohibitions on face-to-face learning.

By Tracy Cabrera

MANILA – Even as the Department of Education (DepEd) expend efforts to continue to provide education though distance learning using an online system and similar programs, students face huge challenges from the lack of gadgets to unstable internet connections.

And currently, public schools brace for the second quarter of the school year in January next year where limited face to face learning might be introduced.

Teachers lament about the difficulties brought about by distance learning, which has forced some students to drop out of school, noticing that some either abruptly stopped attending classes or did not show up for online lectures at all.

The top reasons, one teacher explained, was the inability to easily access gadgets as well as the unstable internet connection.

“Our students are definitely having a hard time adjusting to distance learning. I myself am having a hard time. The main concerns here are internet connectivity, gadgets, and stress for students,” a technology teacher from a high school in Manila revealed.

“In fact, a lot of my students have not shown up since the beginning of the school year. In some cases, students are not able to finish online classes,” she added.

By the end of her lecture, only around half of his 25 students were able to finish synchronous online classes.

Still, millions of students continue to endure the difficulties of the new learning systems and latest data from DepEd showed that only 25 million students were enrolled for school year 2020-2021, leaving nearly three million out of school.

The DepEd lowered its enrollment target this year to just 22.2 million, or 5.5 million short of the 2019 turnout, citing financial difficulties of families due to the new coronavirus pandemic.

Reyes, however, warned that the number of students who were unable to attend classes could increase in the succeeding quarters of the school year if the DepEd did not properly respond to the demands of teachers, students, and their parents.

One mother, for instance, had to withdraw her six-year-old son’s enrollment at a school in Caloocan City just two weeks after public schools reopened on October 5 because she had to look for a job and help sustain their family.

“My son was stressed at home. As a mother, it was like I was studying his lessons, too. I could not leave him to study on his own because he does not know how to read or write yet,” the distraught mother of two said.

By the third week of classes, she had fortunately found employment and decided to forgo her son’s schooling to survive the economic slump triggered by the pandemic.

And even as she saw in-person classes as the more preferable and effective form of learning, she said she did not want to risk her son’s health.

“I cannot send my son out to school like that when we have no assurance that the children will be safe,” she said.

Although the education sector was given the biggest allocation in the 2021 national budget at PhP708.181 billion, teachers stressed that “it was not enough” that government allotted a huge sum.

“The budget needs to be sufficient to address the needs of students, teachers, and schools. We are not saying that the budget needs to be the biggest. It needs to be enough,” they said.

“This is why the right to education remains one of the most violated human rights in the country,” he stressed.

In queries with DepEd, officials failed to respond or comment on the issue. (AI/MTVN)

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