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· Volume II Issue I

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused so many changes in the society. These changes need to be accepted as these can be now considered as the “new normal”. Many people are still adjusting in this current situation as it arrives unexpectedly and mostly are unprepared.

One of the sectors that were affected by this pandemic is the field of education. According to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), over 60% of the world’s student population is impacted by nationwide closures. Many schools worldwide decided to end the school year and shift from face-to-face classroom interaction into online learning.

In the Philippines, inclusive education is something that is being promoted to make sure that every learner is given a chance to have access to quality education. This adheres to UNESCO’s 2030 agenda for sustainable development stated in goal number 4 (SDG 4) that aims to “ensure inclusive and equitable quality education and promote lifelong learning opportunities for all” by 2030.

However, in this current situation, educational leaders and other stakeholders are in the midst of the biggest battle and should turn these challenges into opportunities to achieve inclusivity. One of these challenges is the migration from traditional face-to-face classroom interaction to online learning. Not all students have access to the internet, the worst is many do not have electronic gadgets like smartphones, laptops etc. which they can use to communicate with the teacher and get access to online learning materials. Now, how can this inclusivity be achieved given this scenario given that many students may have encountered problems in getting access to online learning?

The Department of Education (DepEd) in its official statement expressed that accessibility is another issue of utmost concern and must devise various modalities to ensure that online learning should only be one of the options in this new learning environment. DepEd also added that the help and support of all stakeholders are needed in this gruelling transition and they reiterate the importance of education without compromising the lives of the learners. This initiative of the department is very commendable as it only reflects that they are really dedicated towards the achievement of its goal to make sure that education is accessible to all.

Just recently, DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones, with the approval of President Rodrigo Duterte, announced that the school year 2020-2021 will commence on August 24, 2020 and will end on April 30, 2021 for a total of 203 days. This pronouncement resulted in many reactions from students, parents and teachers, since until now there is still no vaccine against this COVID-19. In an interview, Sec. Briones said that “. But what other options do we have? We have to go on because education must continue.” She also added that the department is crafting different options for the students to continue with their schooling while waiting for the vaccine.

With all the negativities surrounding the lives of everyone, it is the time to look out of the darkness and try to shed light especially to the lives of every learner. Everyone must feel that they are always included in every plan of the government. Their journey towards getting an education must not be put to end despite this current situation. Go for inclusive education and no learner must be left behind!