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Opinion

Pragmatism and shift action  

ESSENCE - Ligaya Rabago-Visaya - The Freeman

It should be underlined that both students and their parents are pleased with the commencement of classes. However, academic institutions have found that the demand created by the increased number of students attending classes because of the progressive full adoption of face-to-face instruction cannot be satisfied by the current physical structures, such as the number of classrooms. Blended classes, which enable children to go to school less regularly, such as two or three days a week, have helped to slightly alleviate the ongoing problem of a lack of classrooms, particularly in the first academic year following the pandemic when no new classrooms have been constructed.

While it is true that learning comes from a variety of sources and that school is not the only place where people can learn, this fact could also be used as an excuse for shoddy planning that failed to account for the need to build additional classrooms each year to accommodate the growing number of students in the nation. Our country being one of the last nations in the world to restore full-time in-person instruction, which has prompted worries that the prolonged shutdown of classrooms has exacerbated the nation's education crisis.

The education crisis has been attributed to a few factors, including enormous class sizes, outmoded teaching methods, poverty, and a lack of basic facilities, such as bathrooms. As face-to-face courses restart, these problems persist.

Concerns during the start of the school year included teacher shortage in addition to classroom shortage. The lack of teachers was made worse by rising enrollment in some schools and the dismissal of senior high school teachers who failed to pass the board tests five years after they started working here.

Given this, there is an urgent call to the Marcos administration for immediate and decisive actions to address the shortages in education, ensure school health and safety, allocate sufficient funds, and implement a clear and evidence-based education recovery program.

It is obvious that we cannot go back to the way things were. There are several significant points, one of which is the need for international cooperation due to our shared humanity. The degree of inequity that has been allowed to develop on our shared planet is something we cannot accept. It is crucial that the world invest in 21st century educational infrastructure for poor nations; this will call for the mobilization of resources and support from rich nations, along with debt relief, debt restructuring, and fresh finance.

On a global scale, the size of this problem with the digital divide is obvious. In comparison to the 50% of students worldwide who have computers in the home and the 57% who have access to the internet, only 11% of students in sub-Saharan Africa have a household computer and only 18% have household internet. Already, the pandemic's disruptions are worsening inequality within and between nations. Investment and structural change are urgently needed to prevent short-term setbacks from becoming more serious, long-lasting issues.

Decisions made today about COVID-19 will have an impact on how education develops in the future. Today, high-stakes decisions must be made by policymakers, educators, and communities; these choices should be based on shared values and aspirations for a positive future for all. While COVID-19 has shown flaws, it has also highlighted the incredible resourcefulness and potential of people.

This is a time for pragmatism and swift action, but it is also a time when we need science more than ever. We cannot function without principles either. A humanistic perspective on education, development, and human rights frameworks must influence decisions.

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