Supporting vulnerable students during the COVID-19 pandemic

“Kabataan ang pag-asa ng bayan.” – Dr. Jose Rizal, Philippine National Hero

The growth of our children today will determine the future of our land grounded on how fruitful our seed of hope for them is through nurtured education. Schools have traditionally been the farmland of our young—until the pandemic has corrupted our soil.

While it is acknowledged that all children have the right to education, not all children are given the opportunity to start well. Some are not even starting at all. The pandemic has even aggravated the toil for these vulnerable students who are equally important for the beginning of our tomorrow.

With the COVID-19 pandemic that caused widespread closure of educational institutions in the Philippines, the willingness of many Filipino students to continue their education is greatly affected. Technology has become the alternative to respond to the needs of the learners. Educational institutions have resorted to e-learning. The advancement of technology has undeniably provided the continuation of education of the Filipino students despite the pandemic. Still, there would be no fair sides at all. School closure and making use of technology have caused damage to the quality of education that the students receive, and delay to the education of the students who do not have the means to e-learning.

In the Philippines, three million students have chosen not to enroll during the school year of 2020 – 2021 in basic education (Uaminal, 2021). There are households that are unprepared for the new set-up. The members of families from low-income backgrounds do not have consistent access to their own device as the parents cannot provide for each child inside the household. The inequities within the education system in the country have increased. The pandemic has contributed to the burden of shouldering the added costs for the new set-up of learning as it requires devices, a high-speed and reliable internet connection. This has deepened the idea that education is only for those who can afford it.

Truly, there will never be a substitute for the experience of face-to-face learning. The loss of education during the pandemic particularly affects the vulnerable. However, the continuation of learning should not only be dependent on the physical setting. There are still ways to help the children who do not have the means to the accessibility of education available during this pandemic. If we can contribute to their tomorrow, why not do it today?

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