Chopsuey learning

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - October 6, 2020 - 12:00am

Under normal circumstances, in this month in the Philippines, public school students would be preparing for mid-term exams and looking forward to taking a short break going into November. But these aren’t normal times, and learning for millions of our youngsters has been put through disruptions unimaginable before.

Yesterday, classes for about 25 million students commenced finally – but in a new-normal topsy-turvy chopsuey way. The Department of Education (DepEd) calls this blended or hybrid learning, a cocktail of “remote” and “in-person” interaction between teachers and pupils.

In an age where digital connectivity is playing a bigger role in new-normal learning all over the world, the Philippines sadly has to reckon with the fact that majority of students and teachers are burdened with having unstable internet connections, inaccessibility, and even higher cost for online education.

Thus, the DepEd’s blended learning formula will lean heavily on delivered printed educational materials and guides to homes of students, and supplemented by television and radio lessons, much like the on-air remote classes for the outback children of Australia’s hinterlands a few decades ago.

If there will be any digital interventions, it will most likely be through short message service (SMS), or what we refer to as texting, or through the less expensive messaging apps like Messenger, which comes with Facebook that almost all Filipinos are familiar with and use.


Like any new interventions, expect lots of missteps, not just on the part of teachers, but also with students and the supervising adults at home. The challenges will be enormous for everyone grappling with the newness of the whole learning environment during these pandemic times.

Online learning, as what children of more affluent families are currently receiving through private schools, is not going to be practical for a vast majority of the 25 million students because of the absence of home computers and, more importantly, stable internet connection.

Therefore, public school teachers are being asked to do the next best thing: monitor the “homework” of their students by retrieving accomplished answer sheets at designated drop points and avoiding all forms of face-to-face learning interaction.

When one-on-one personal guidance is required, free calls via the Messenger app will likely be the popular choice, that is, if the student or his/her family has a smartphone. Otherwise, for the more diligent teacher, it would be through written “love” notes.

One thing is for certain, all this newness will lead to mistakes that will far-outweigh those that had been committed in the past, and more likely exacerbate the weaknesses of our pre-pandemic education system.


One of the biggest challenges that the public education system faces today is its budget. DepEd received an appropriation of about P1.7 billion this year, and with very little additional funds from the budget reallocations made possible by the Bayanihan to Heal as One Act.

Next year, while still in the midst of the pandemic uncertainties, the DepEd will have to continue operating on its old budget. This means that teachers will not receive the support they need to provide for the costlier learning interventions, including paying for better gadgets.

A number of local governments have pledged to help by allocating some of their funds to support the education of their primary and secondary students, but this will largely be limited, and only in cities and municipalities that are better off.

All told, learning for most of our students will be greatly impaired this year, and perhaps even next year if this virus is not contained or an effective vaccine is produced and distributed down to the level of school children. We have shrugged this off as something that cannot be helped, a decision taken to protect the lives of our children over a learning dysfunction.

While waiting for better days ahead, our education officials must start to think of how best to cope with the impaired system. This means not just on a day-to-day basis until we can get back to in-person learning, but getting everyone back to track through make-up classes.

Tips for home-based entrepreneurs

We give space to one of our readers, Raymond Tumao, who sent some tips to the growing number of home-based entrepreneurs. Here are excerpts:

“Many out-of-job people of all ages have resorted to cooking at home and coming up with mainstream food-to-go packs and some designer recipes that were available only in signature delis or restaurants prior to the pandemic.

“To the new online food sellers, try to create new recipes that are acceptable to the palates of common Filipinos who do not have the time to go to the market, prepare and cook their food.

“Focus your attention on a selling price that your customer cannot resist and make sure the ingredients are always readily available, even at this time of pandemic.

“Make do with what cooking equipment you have and avoid buying new kitchen wares and equipment as if your food will surely sell. Factor in your effort as part of the labor cost, and observe if you have enough financial or psychological gains that could encourage you enough to go big time. Take note too that some food items need to be served hot, iced or chilled.

“Make sure you manage your time from procurement and delivery to stocking, preserving the raw materials until it is time to cook and serve. And lastly, if you feel that you have a successful item, give it a unique name for easier recall.”

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Should you wish to share any insights, write me at Link Edge, 25th Floor, 139 Corporate Center, Valero Street, Salcedo Village, 1227 Makati City. Or e-mail me at For a compilation of previous articles, visit

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