The present pandemic that our country has been saddled with has caused a lot of negative consequences on the many domains of society including education. Education is one of the sectors which has been greatly affected by this world health crisis.
Schools nationwide were abruptly closed due to the coronavirus disease. These school closures happened almost a year and half ago. The country, through the education sector, in its pursuit of learning continuity plans has implemented a wide range of modalities which schools can adopt and start implementing in their respective stations.
The abrupt shift from traditional face to face classes instant to remote learning the next has posed educational challenges. Truly, this pandemic has brought quite compelling challenges to our education, impacting not only the learners and the teachers, but also the school community and other stakeholders.
The traditional way of teaching and learning with physical interaction through classroom setting has become out of the context these days due to the present pandemic. This traditional way of teaching and learning no longer translates in the present situation. We cannot refuse to say that face to face classes as the traditional educational set up which we implement in schools long before the pandemic spread all over the globe really help with the teaching and learning process. Before, they learned from a wide array of teaching and learning strategies that are utilized in the teaching learning situation. Learners also learned from an academic dialogue with their peers during discussions. Learners had a full access to learning resources and materials.
However, our education has changed. It has undergone some paradigm shifts – leaving behind, for the time being, every traditional teaching and learning strategy which no longer translates to remote learning or learning delivery modalities employed by schools. Classes are no longer conducted in the classroom. Teachers become virtual mentors, employing information and communications technology (ICT) in their day-to-day teaching journey. Learners can no longer be seen within the school premises yet giving it their best shot to learn in the comfort of their own home, at their own pace and time, and through their preferred learning styles.
I have rounded up some of the major effects of the present pandemic on education and its implications on the school and community partnership.
Paradigm Shifts in the Way Teaching and Learning Process Takes Place
The present pandemic has greatly affected the teaching and learning process. It resulted in shifts in the approaches to teaching or the teaching pedagogies that schools had been utilizing long before the pandemic saddle the country. These shifts have affected the way teachers teach the students and the way the students learn and master the competencies set by the curriculum. If traditional way of teaching and learning inside the four corners of the classroom really help with the teaching and learning, the new educational setup today faces overwhelming challenges since we are introduced to a brand new way of continuing education. The teachers have become virtual facilitators and cannot physically facilitate learning. Learners today learn from modular distance learning delivery modality unlike before that they learn from physical interaction in the classroom and through having academic dialogue with their peers during class discussions. Learners today merely depends their learning from accomplishing activities included in the module. If lucky enough, they can be assisted by their “more knowledgeable others” at home such as the parents or guardians, siblings,, or any relatives that may act as the facilitator in the teacher’s stead.
Implications on the school and community partnerships:
These shifts in the way teaching and learning process happens have both positive and negative implications on the school and community partnership. The positive impact takes place when the school and the community and other stakeholders step up efforts in delivering quality education amidst pandemic. This is evident in circumstances that engage the school community in the learning continuity plans of the school. For instance, there are school which work together with the community stakeholders in order to deliver quality education through the chosen and adopted learning delivery modality. This happens when the barangay or a community get involved in the implementation of the learning delivery modality where modules are taken to a place somewhere in their barangay to provide the parents and guardians with full access to self-learning modules and other learning resources.
However, the partnership between the school and community may end there. This is where the negative consequence of this pandemic comes to the equation. Due to the restrictions implemented by the government as one of their pandemic responses, the school community and other stakeholders have less engagement in some other school activities and programs conducted and implemented by the school. The situation has resulted in lesser involvement of the stakeholders since there are risks and angers posed by the pandemic.
The Emergence of Online Class
The abrupt closures of schools due to the pandemic have given rise to a wide array of learning delivery modalities which schools may adopt and implement in their respective stations. Most common of all these is the printed modular distance learning modality. This is characterized by the use of printed modules (self-learning modules) and other supplementary learning materials in support of learning continuity. However, some schools have also adopted online distance learning modality as it is deemed necessary as well. Through this modality, the teaching and learning process where teachers directly provide instructions to the learners is made possible. On the other hand, not every learner can cope with this modality due to reasons of financial. This is for the reason that this requires extra allotment for Internet usage which becomes another burden to learners, most especially to parents or guardians. Many of the households suffer from the pandemic due to loss of jobs or lay offs, social isolation, and salary or wage decrease perhaps to some. The online class makes it doubly difficult for a learner who has financial issues to access quality education.
Implications on the School and Community Partnership:
As mentioned, almost everything is now done online. This approach has also been adopted to education which is evident in the online distance learning modality that some schools are implementing. This also has placed the partnership between the school and the community and other stakeholders at risk. This is for the reason that there is lesser involvement from the community since most of the school activities and programs are done virtually. Though it has been recognized that this pandemic response can help with mitigating the consequences of the health crisis, still the partnership between the school and the community is at stake. Not everyone is active on social media and other online platforms so there are chances that some of the community stakeholders do not get informed of the school’s activities and projects. This greatly affected the schools and it is mainly dependent on the school’s strategic plans and responses on how they will reach out to their stakeholders to seek support from them.
Changes in the Way Learners are Assessed
This, I think, is one of the compelling challenges that education today is beset by. Since printed modular distance learning has been implemented by some schools, it has become a point of discussion as to how learners will be assessed in terms of their learning and their mastery of each competency set by the curriculum. This is by far one of the challenging roles of the schools since traditional way of teaching no longer happens these days. Apart from that, the validity of assessment is at stake as well since some learners, as evident, have full access to technology and Internet in particular. There will be many chances that the learners will rely on what the Internet can provide them with and help them with when it comes to their assessment. Although, the department has issued interim guidelines on the administering of assessment tools in schools, still the authenticity of learning is at stake. To be quite honest, there are some memes circulating on social media showing the adverse effects of online distance learning on the future graduates. But that issue is out of the picture in this discussion.
Implications on the School and Community Partnership
This also greatly affects the partnership between the school and the community as I have observed. There are outputs which learners have to do showcase after each quarter and this had been done before the pandemic reached the country. This happens during culminating activity where learners perform and show their competencies they have mastered all throughout the quarter or school year perhaps. In some schools, parents and guardians were invited to personally witness the performance showcase of the learners. This alone promoted partnerships between the school and the community. Community stakeholders are made part of the conduct of the school activities which eventually helps with establishing good partnership with them. The emergence of online showcase or multimedia performances or presentations though becomes effective in establishing the school’s commitment to learners’ progress, however, has also built a high wall that somehow hampers the strong partnership that the stakeholders may give towards the school.
Shifts in the Way Learners are Graded
This has also become a matter of discussion and debate as to how learners will be graded in this new educational system. This issue is pretty similar to that of the previous discussion about assessment. it is undeniably true that the way learners are graded help in some ways, with establishing partnership with the community stakeholders. The more the learners get to be recognized for their academic excellence, the more the community stakeholders become involved and engaged in the school’s activities and causes. This may not be applicable to all schools but this happens as well. The achievement attained by the learners doubles the achievement attained by the parents or guardians.
Implications on the School and Community Partnership
This issue has impacted the desire of the school to establish a strong partnership with the community. As recognitions of the learners academic excellence were done virtually, there is lesser involvement and presence of the community in that event. Somehow, the use of online platforms helps with reaching out to some parents and guardians and other stakeholders, but what about those who do not have access to technology and Internet?
The pandemic might have been causing a lot of negative consequences on education and impacts the partnership between the school and community stakeholders, but the opportunities of the schools to devise strategies on how they will reach out to the community are countless. Schools just need to think of strategic plans that will encourage community to actively engage and involve in each and every activity it will implement.
Once again, while some of us think of these educational challenges as a burden, we tend to forget that this paradigm shift of learning can also be an extraordinary opportunity to reset education and ensure the implementation of inclusive education and somehow establish a strong partnership with the school community stakeholders.
There could be negative consequences on education, but still let us look at the positive side of it. The different shifts made by the institutions can be quite overwhelming, but these may have longer effects on the education of our learners.