Inconsistent & impractical solutions
By YASHIKA TORIB
Manila Bureau Correspondent
It was a “back to school” kind of month for young Filipino students this October, except that in reality, they are not physically back to school. This pandemic has forcibly pulled the Philippines in the direction of digitalized distance education (e-learning), something that other nations have already mastered for the past years, but for us is a “developing country” that remains to be a conundrum and challenge.
It proved one thing, however – the resilience of Filipinos no matter how far they are on the fringes of society. Children adjusted with the new routine of home-based and module-guided education amidst the noise of neighbors and hens; parents especially those from the urban poor have managed to produce laptops or android phones, most of which were bought second-hand, for the online schooling of their children; and teachers, even the veterans, the elderly ones in particular, went down to learn the maze and nuances of online applications, oftentimes seeking the help from their younger counterparts.
E-learning began as a strange phenomenon for students, parents, and teachers. Today it is a challenge, albeit a tolerable one. It revealed, once again, the Filipinos’ ability to adapt in any situation no matter how hard and often they complain at first– a trait that we observably and usually possess.
As students and teachers gradually realize that e-learning is generally attainable, they have also recognized that apart from gadgets, an Internet connection is imperative in the successful conduct of online education. Over the past weeks, there have been incessant complaints and cursings flung over to Internet service providers for static, lagging, and oftentimes service disconnections. Everyone who depends on the Internet for their home-based education and works relied heavily on the stability of the connection, hoping that at some point, the government would intervene for improvement.
And so, the government did. On the first day of online school, policemen were deployed on the streets to “make homes and communities conducive for online classes.” But “how”, asked the citizens? It was explained by Joint Task Force COVID Shield commander Lt. Gen. Guillermo Eleazar that they are supposed to regulate the noise made by drunkards on streets, the blaring sounds of videoke on houses, even the clucking, and crowing of roosters. The bottom line of deployed policemen is to avoid aural distraction amongst students.
So what about the mental distraction of being in a middle of class discussion only to find your teacher frozen in mid-sentence due to lagging connection and the next time she resumes speaking, she’s already gone several phrases down her speech?
Eleazar justified that the street deployment was effective as they’ve seen residents, most without facemasks, scramming back home upon the sight of policemen. So, then, the purpose was to keep health safety measures, right?
We’ve all been students and children once; some would have also had the experience of living in an especially “lively” community. We may be annoyed with it, but truly, we are used to the noise. Isn’t it impractical to provide a solution that is inconsistent with the problem?
This sounds similar to the deployed policemen during the burial of political prisoner Reina Mae Nacino’s three-month-old daughter. Or the posting of forces during rallies by anti-terror bill and SONA 2020 protesters – all for the name of keeping public security and health safety protocols observed.
Then again, how about the public launching of Manila Bay’s ‘white sand’ where hundreds trooped to that corner beside the US Embassy, standing dangerously skin-to-skin with each other only to be able to witness and take photos of the now washed-off dolomites? Were there policemen to chase them back home?