Learning continuity while pandemic rages

BIZLINKS - Rey Gamboa (The Philippine Star) - October 20, 2020 - 12:00am

In these extraordinary times when a pandemic is raging, sending back 22 million Filipino public school students to school even if under a hybrid or blended scheme can already be considered a feat no matter if the quality of learning may likely be compromised.

The Philippines has largely managed to abort an education discontinuity amidst the national government’s concern that children may be asymptomatic carriers of the deadly coronavirus, and therefore a source of the spread of the disease in closely packed multi-generational family homes.

Keeping children schooled at home has not raised any big issues among Filipino parents who have had to apportion more time to supervising their youngsters in studying and accomplishing school assignments, unlike in many Western countries where both parents have to work, and have traditionally relied on schools to keep their children during the day.

The decision to keep the 47,000 public schools across the country closed for the school year until June of 2021 may seem harsh, but this is the best that we can do, being a developing economy that cannot afford to equip schools with sanitizers and face masks throughout the school year.

There is some comfort, though, in the thought that we have a system less chaotic compared to those in many European and American countries where schools have opened and closed, then reopened and closed again depending on how serious infection rates are spreading.

We can treat the pandemic as a state of war, where the old normal can only be resumed until the virus’ potency becomes considerably weakened, either with majority of people acquiring immunity or through a vaccine that can stop its spread.

Until that time comes, we cannot expect a return to the “old” ways, and our best option to survive is to adapt. Thus, when there are inconsistencies or mistakes in the hastily produced blended learning materials that the Department of Education delivered to students’ homes, the best remedy to disseminate corrections.

Public school teachers will be called upon to be nimble in their approaches. Luckily, unlike during the last World War, we have telecommunication tools that can reach out and help students press on with their task of learning as best as can be.

A reader’s view on decongesting cities

We give way to Raymond Tumao, one of our regular readers, with his piece. Here are relevant parts of his letter.

“During the ’80s, Sha Tin was a semi provincial area where the cost of living was lower than in Kowloon or Hong Kong. Food, clothing, and home furnishings started to boom and the local infrastructure moved out too towards the New Territories.

“People residing in the New Territories today need not come to Hong Kong or Kowloon for their necessities because whatever brand they see in these cities, they can find in the New Territories. Food is also cheaper outside the prime cities.

“This is what we should follow. Instead of waiting for the malls to open up, small entrepreneurs should start up immediately. The new communities I am suggesting should have a very innovative urban planning and execution, otherwise, we will again see land developers grasping for vertical space and blocking the view that comes with the climate.

“Enterprising city dwellers should start the food chain in new areas outside Metro Manila by building farms for raising animals and other agricultural activities for food to ensure the survival of the community. In these farms, not only the animals are bred and raised, but the feeds as well should be (locally produced).

“All excess produce shall be sold to traders or directly to retail markets and the proceeds ploughed back to the farm. Community members can start opening up shops and sell their products directly to the community members or other people outside.

“Products that have trade names should be sold at lower prices in these community stores rather than in malls located outside the community. And since malls normally would not allow a brand owner to sell the same product at a cheaper price than the malls’, the owner may opt to change the label to allow the mall to sell under a different label or make the label exclusive only to all new communities that will rise in the future.

“Supermarkets in popular malls sell some items using their own label, but are priced lower than other brands of the same product. The truth is, the products come from the same suppliers, but because of the mall’s strategy of selling the cheapest product under their own logo, the mall can therefore sell the product at the lowest possible price.

“The new entrepreneurs may also import whenever they see a drop in prices in a foreign market. Feral animals abroad may be purchased at a cheaper price, but you have to seek the guidance of the BA (Bureau of Agriculture) and the FDA (Food and Drugs Authority) to allow the importation.

“Food items that have no local counterpart can command prices to your advantage, but I strongly feel that we Filipinos should be smart enough to buy our essential food at the lowest possible price in order to have excess cash that we can save for a rainy day or even spend on our own caprices.”

Facebook and Twitter

We are actively using two social networking websites to reach out more often and even interact with and engage our readers, friends and colleagues in the various areas of interest that I tackle in my column. Please like us on www.facebook.com/ReyGamboa and follow us on www.twitter.com/ReyGamboa.

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 reydgamboa@yahoo.com. For a compilation of previous articles, visit www.BizlinksPhilippines.net.

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