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· Volume II Issue II

Globally, all are being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and essential array of activities are disrupted. According to the World Health Organization (2020), 41,570,883 cases of COVID-19 have been confirmed with 1,134,940 deaths. Numerous economies are declining. Many have lost their jobs, and several businesses have been closed. A lot of social and political unrest are happening worldwide. The academic sector experiences difficulties as to how to resume and continue education and learning. These occurrences prove that these days are trying times especially in the education sector.

For this new normal, one of the alternative learning modalities being employed is the Modular Distance Learning (MDL). It is a form of distance learning that uses Self-Learning Modules (SLM), both printed and digital, which are centered on the most essential learning competencies (MELCs) provided by the Department of Education (DepEd). It works by providing students with the SLMs which include its distribution, retrieval and assessment. The modules also include sections on motivation and assessment that serve as a complete guide of both teachers’ and students’ desired competencies. The teacher takes the responsibility of monitoring the progress of the learners through home visits if possible.

Manlangit, Paglumotan and Sapera (2020) reported that based on the data gathered via DepEd’s National Learner Enrolment and Survey Forms (LESFs), 8.8 million out of the 22.2 million enrollees (39.6% of total respondents) preferred modular distance learning for the upcoming school year.

Now, one of the advantages being perceived in the MDL is the fact that the country does not have stable internet connection at large and numerous students do not have access to technological devices. This mode of learning is a response to the call for inclusive education where, ideally, no student is left behind. Through the use of SLM, this learning modality becomes accessible to more students. It also is flexible and is subject to the students’ set schedules. It is also said to be student-centered since the accomplishment of tasks is self-paced and requires self-discipline. And as we have seen how it is most preferred, cost efficiency for the families is also considered.

However, there are profuse concerns that arise which must seriously be looked at in the implementation of the MDL. Looking through an economic and environmental perspective, while students and parents would save much, it will cost the government much. Senator Ralph Recto, an economist, estimated that 93.6 billion pages of learning modules for millions of public school students will be needed just for one full academic year on top of all logistic operations. Accordingly, even DepEd Secretary Briones admitted that it really is expensive and has big effect on the environment. (Magsambol, 2020) Likewise, it poses health risks especially in the distribution and retrieval processes. Both teachers and parents raised concerns over using the MDL approach due to fears of contracting the coronavirus. There are also issues of many students not being motivated enough to finish the tasks, being flustered in terms of volume and deadlines, and being distracted at home with various concerns. Meanwhile, the parents are also expected to assist their children, but not all parents can focus in helping them due to other responsibilities and not all of them are capable of doing so because they might not comprehend the materials themselves. Moreover, it must be noted that the creation of modules was done in such a short span of time. Thus, errors in the modules are reported which involve factual, computational, clerical, printing and typographical oversights which the DepEd assured that they are monitoring and rectifying. (Gonzales, 2020)

As discussed, MDL is far from perfection. Nonetheless, the DepEd must be commended with the challenges they continue to overcome. But then again, the department must not act so high and mighty and self-uplifting. Many students, at this time, are still being left behind, whether they admit it or not. They must also realize that much work is needed to be done and be improved to adapt in today’s landscape and be able to move forward even with or without COVID-19.