By: Arlene B. Catalino, Teacher II/ Mawigue Elementary School
In recent months following the opening of full face-to-face classes, we have seen part of the impacts of the pandemic on the academic performance of our students. The most common is the decline in the level of abilities of students in relation to skills and knowledge in maths, English, and science. Sadly, this is not only in the countryside but nationwide as shown in research studies and reports of the national government.
In the area where I work out, we observed 5 major issues that affected the performance of students academically which could have negatively affected their schooling during the pandemic. 1. Preparedness for modular/blended learning of both teachers and students, 2. Lack of gadgets and internet connection, 3. Difficulty of monitoring and providing guidance to learners, 4. Lack of control and imposition of discipline and behavioral changes, 5. Lack of funding.
When the pandemic hit, 2 years or more of schooling was made modular. Our readiness was not enough as there were lackings of facilities, internet networks, and gadgets. Not to mention, most rural schools are alien to distance learning. Students and parents were likewise unprepared for the sudden shift. This undoubtedly pushed teachers to create modules or adopt modules to continue teaching and learning.
With blended learning, some tried to use the internet but some do not have access, some do not have gadgets, and some do not have enough allowance to buy netload. This widened the gap among learners.
There were difficulties monitoring students. This translated into many learners just playing during online classes, sleeping, or playing with their Facebook. Home visitations were not enough. Providing guidance was also difficult as some students do not approach their teachers or just copy answers from their classmates for submission. Some parents were not able to supervise their children as others did not finish their schooling.
There was a lack of control despite the hard work teachers do in reminding and following up on their students. The physical absence of a teacher in front of students indeed makes a difference in shaping the behavior of students.
All these are interconnected, and that funding was one problem that limited the work of educators. Some teachers used their own salaries, schools solicited aid, while others requested donations to cover expenses of the delivery of basic education in their area.
Some of these issues are being solved and now that we are back to face-to-face classes, leveling up the academic performance of students is a new concern. There is a need to work double to catch up with the lost time and opportunities. We proposed remedial classes to poor-performing students as well as provided more time and activities for them to reinforce and practice their skills. Education in rural schools is as important as the education of students in urban areas, we hope that with the extra work and extra sacrifice to aid our students, some good results shall emerge.
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