June is World Humanist Month but in the Philippines June is typically the start of Academic Year. The pandemic have altered a lot of programs designated for learning. In our community alone, we are striving hard to put meals on the table rather than prioritizing the academic calendar.
Even in education, there is a glaring divide between the can affords and the have not’s. Our Department of Education is trying to find a solution that will be beneficial to all. Philippines being an archipelago, will have areas where technology is catching up and there are parts which the word technology is nonexistent.
The solution of DepEd is blended curriculum so we can start the Academic Year 2020-2021 on August 24, 2020. In fairness to the Philippine Department of Education, they have shown that they are ardent protector of learning. By defending the right for education it will lessen the impact of the pandemic to the learning abilities of our children. The rationale of the blended curriculum of DepEd stems from the fact that face to face activities in certain areas may pose greater risk. The role of the Local Government Unit to protect its citizen and resident is as important as that of their student. Online classes combined with physical classes are allowed in certain areas where the infection were controlled and eradicated. In certain areas where online classes are not feasible, DepED solution is to provide printed materials and initiated other media forms of learning. This solution has many drawbacks as there are parents who lacks the ability to teach their children as they themselves are illiterate.
So in all this, on top of having a hard time to get food on the table, the parents of our community is looking for ways to find a solution on their own on how to enroll their children under the new curriculum. Online enrolment in other areas is already a nightmare. Our community in the mountain does not have electricity and water much less internet café. So we did what must be done, to manually get the information of students and bring it down so the head teacher can encode their information.
The potential risk is higher in our community as Aeta does not have access to tap water unlike the people in the low land. Our dilemma is how to bring in the dedicated teacher to lone school that serves the 5 communities in the mountain. We have been isolated and we are worried that by some twist of fate a lowlander teacher may bring in the virus and wipe the whole IP community but at the same time how will the children learn if there will be no willing teacher to take on the challenge. At the moment the isolation may actually protect us from harm. We do not want to initiate our own demise from any reckless behavior.
But from other areas where we can support the academic year, HAPI Central Luzon together with the co-lead convenor Mutya have started our annual Brigada Eskwela. This is in accordance with DepEd annual moratorium for public school to seek donations from private individual’s, alumni and other NGO’s to raise funds for cleaning materials and educational materials that the school may need.
Our communities needed thermal scanner, hygiene kits (alcohol or hand sanitizer) face mask, colors, bond papers and cleaning aid (bleach, soap, rags and brooms). We were are still collecting, hopefully before August 24, 2020 as the Academic Year starts we will be able to sponsor our target schools.
HAPI Central Luzon has been always advocating for education but at the moment we will prioritize nourishing the body so that the mental capacity of the community can adapt and adjust to the new norm of existence. Filipinos are known to be resilient and COVID19 pandemic have shown time and again that HUMANITY can survive if others will be empathetic towards each other.