Public school re-opening

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Tomorrow Monday is when the city’s public schools re-open — not the physical setting that students and pupils have been known to habituate during school hours — but by the use of a blended learning process that combines technology and personal wizardry for learning to be imparted. Tough task for tough mentoring indeed, if we are to assess the challenges at hand. Learning, after all, isn’t just about imparting it, but in seeing to it that lessons are fairly received by minds receptive to these. That should be an on-going challenge that will need more of anyone’s infinite patience, perseverance, and pre-eminence.

How ready is our school system to get classes, those conducted by the force and magic of information technology, going? From the mentoring side, have we capably infused ability, not so much of competence, to handle online classes the proximate way these are done within the four walls of a classroom setting? Are our teachers well-equipped — mentally, emotionally, and psychologically — to make learning possible? Have they, in fact, been adequately trained all through the past months when education was pushed to the back-burner of human endeavors to get back on track?

How ready are our children to adapt themselves to the new, and decidedly innovative ways, of learning in these times? From what we have learned from private school pupils, it would readily seem that the effort to imbibe, to catch on, to get the mind and the heart attuned to what’s going on, may be much of a herculean task. Kids being at their age, they just have attention spans that last no more than a few minutes. Getting them in full attention remains a huge challenge for the mentoring task.

This is not to say that it’s time to step back. Not at all. This is about our kids, our parents, and their collective dream of being the adult persons they definitely shall be in no mean time. Learning is an ever-continuing process, a work in progress over which constancy as well as consistency are over-riding concerns. This is about the future which present endeavors have to look after.

Through the decades, Baguio’s school system has admirably performed so well that education has been approximated to be among the nation’s A-1 level, a reputation the city has carefully nurtured. In a population of nearly 400,000 souls, close to a third are students enrolled annually in all levels. Basic education is much of a concern that crisis of whatever kind has failed to hamper all through the years.

Which is why there’s so much endearment tugging every parent’s heart whenever educational needs are even discussed. Pandemic or not, these are times when challenges need to be addressed with vigor and resoluteness. Even more so in these times when the virus remains a potent threat, when safety ranks highest in any conversation, education just could not be disrupted much longer than necessary. It just couldn’t be helped any longer. After all. Education is much too valuable for the pandemic, even of this virulence, to delay, defer, or even be scrapped.

To be sure, safety will always be a paramount imperative. Which is why today’s schooling is made to run on blended learning. Precisely due to health and safety concerns, in-person class setting has to be set aside for now, given the continued threat from the pandemic. Well and good.

Just the same, policy guidelines have been set for the education sector, principally for DepEd, CHED, TESDA, and other learning institutions to abide by, policies that provide protective measures for safety reasons, even as the classroom environment will remain a teacher-to-students setting created at home. This has given rise to the blended learning scheme developed for reliance on Information Technology — through broadcast media (TV and radio), wifi-provided internet service for households, and other e-learning devices usable by the receiving student.

Much expectations are therefore reliant on how well the classroom teacher will do the assigned task of knowledge-impartation and skills development. In a computer age that we’ve been in, this should not pose much of a challenge for adaptation, since all this time, transmittal and reception have largely been IT-driven. That’s what makes the process smarter than before — no physical contact between teacher and student, no physical handling of anything in the course of class conduct, etc.

As Mayor Benjie has enunciated on the eve of launching the public school sector’s class re-opening tomorrow, “despite the challenges to our situation now, we must remain steadfast with each other. Because we are — and have always been — in this endeavor together, unfazed by forbidding failures, but willing to adapt to the strange learning methods that will be done as a continuing task where everyone will surely strive to do his utmost best.”

That much indeed we owe to the future heirs of our generation. Less than what we can capably do in these prevailing circumstances is a betrayal of our youth’s opportunities to be better than their best through collaboratively done endeavors.