In an online press conference on the upcoming opening of classes conducted by E-Net Philippines, students from poor, disadvantaged, and marginalized sectors shared their concerns about education amid the COVID-19 pandemic as the system shifts toward distance learning.
Riza Tahuyan, a 15-year-old Grade 11 student of the Manobo tribe in North Cotabato, expressed her concerns on the challenges that she would face this school year since there will be no face-to-face classes.
“Natatakot kami na mapag-iwanan kasi ang lalayo ng aming communities sa school, at sobrang mahihirapan ang teacher na madala o makuha ng aming magulang ‘yung mga learning modules,” she said.
Tahuyan added that for indigenous learners like her, the Department of Education’s (DepEd) mandate to schools to conduct classes inside the students’ homes through various learning modalities such as modules, online, and TV or radio-based instruction, will be very challenging.
Echoing Tahuyan’s sentiments, Muslim Jannessah Odin, a Grade 7 student from Pikit, Cotabato, said that most Muslim learners cannot afford the technology and have no access to the Internet.
With this, she asked the government for “more funding for Madrasah education programs in order to create opportunities for more Muslim learners to access education.”
Donnie Dela Cruz, a 21-year-old student who is supposed to graduate this year but forced to drop out of college due to the difficulties brought about by the pandemic, said: “Katulad ng marami, nakakaranas kami ng gutom at sobrang malungkot po ako kasi hindi ako makakasabay sa eskwela pero kasi wala akong pambili ng phone o gadget sa online classes.”
Corazon Siya, an alternative learning system (ALS) community facilitator from the Kalipunan ng mga Sektor sa Caloocan (KASECA), also raised the concerns of those who are under the informal learning system.
She said that out-of-school youth are expected to be “left further behind” when it comes to education amid the pandemic since the government does not prioritize them.