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· Volume II Issue I

Among the countries in South East Asia, none quite compare to the Rising Tiger of the East: Philippines.

With how fast our numbers are going up, there is no doubt we are steadily climbing the global ranks. Alas, if only these numbers meant anything good. Instead, we now stand with over a hundred thousand cases of the infamous Corona virus (Covid-19), with more being added to the roster every passing day. If that is not bad enough—the body count is now at two thousand, all according to

Though we can think of these numbers as mere statistics, they are not. Every single one in the growing graph we see displayed online or in TV is a real person who is struggling with the reality of the disease. Two thousand bodies, one hundred thousand ill. Moreover, even those who are not sick are suffering to make ends meet. It is no stranger to all of us what the lockdown has down to the economy. In April alone, the Philippine Statistics Authority has reported an all time high in unemployment due to the pandemic.

Hunger, disease, and an impending sense of doom do not exactly make for the best combination. Add the strain of academic requirements in the mix and it becomes worse, particularly for still developing children.

The point of school is to provide a conducive learning environment for young minds—a place separate from home where they can focus on the task of building their fundamentals and more. While self-study outside the place does indeed work wonders, it pales in comparison to an institution solely dedicated to that. With the distractions that run aplenty in the four walls of the house—from rowdy siblings, to not-so-ideal living conditions, and maybe even arguing parents in the worst case scenario—home simply does not give the sort of space that facilitate a more effective mental growth, especially without the teachers who normally guide the children in this process.

Aside from that, there is also the mental strain of remote learning that looms ever present among the children afflicted by the pandemic’s clutches on our world. In school, people go out and make friends—they connect to each other with similar interests and share moments that help them grow. The campus promotes learning that is not just limited to the academic, but also the curricular and social. These two particularly help in easing the exhaustion and burn out that comes from intensive study. However, with quarantine in effect, this is no longer the case. Students have no means to be together with their peers on the same level as before. Sure, video chatting exists, and messenger apps are a dime a dozen—but the alleviating effect of your friends being there for you through the tough times of school is one of the better tradeoffs of attending school. It is a reality that for some kids, school is their escape where they can pursue their dreams with likeminded individuals.

As it is now, students must power through their subjects by self-teaching the material to themselves. They do not have the luxury of a library or an area reserved for learning, some without even the essentials due to the shortage of materials and restrictions on buying things. The option of indulging in the companionship of their peers to destress is limited to virtual connections too. Finally, simmering beneath all this is the very real threat of the pandemic that still rages beyond the walls of their quarantine. All in all,…it is a lot for someone who still has yet to face the world in its full, and that’s not even the end of it.

Some students deal with these issues while wondering if they will have food to eat the next day; if they will still live long enough for their grades to even matter. Some have domestic problems that they seek refuge from in school, their escape routes cut off now that they are stuck at home. Some do not even have the means to adapt to the new tactics of remote learning, lacking internet, radios paper and pens. With unemployment rates are still fluctuating due to the constant closing and opening of towns from their lockdowns or community quarantines, careers once hopeful students aspire to achieve are shutting down, their parents no longer having means of income.

As such, learning should be inclusive. It should not favor only those who are fortunate enough to have the stringent requirements of the “new normal,” but every student in the country. No child left behind, as they say—whether this means adapting to the various economic and financial issues that plague the populace, having the compassion to deal with the mental fatigue brought on by our current situation or academic freeze. Every child deserves a chance to learn or be given a better opportunity to do so, and they should be able to do this in a safe environment within their means.

Though the Department of Education is doing what they can by expanding their reach using television, radio, and modules, this is merely addressing the logistics of learning and not the gaping hole in these growing minds left behind by the pandemic.

After all, there is no doubt we are in an era of uncertainty, but for the youth—the demographic we so often quote as the future—it is a question whether they even have a tomorrow to look forward to.