Education Amid the Pandemic

By Paul Eraño V. Ladrillo

This is one of the editorials of HUDYAT magazine , 2nd Semester A.Y. 2019-2020.
Posted on February 1, 2021 upon relaunching of the HUDYAT website.

COVID-19 continues to ravage the world. An avalanche of reports on its undesirable effects dominates the daily news worldwide.  According to the World Health Organization (WHO), the end of the pandemic can only be determined after the virus is completely contained and vaccines are available.

The pandemic resulted in what we call “new normal.”  It is a term originally used in economics and business referring to financial conditions after a crisis. Today, the “new normal” pertains to the overall change in our lifestyle because of the pandemic in which even hugs, kisses, and other close interactions are highly discouraged.

Our education follows the new normal too. Mass gatherings are limited and the government prohibits face-to-face classes until public safety is assured. This prompts the government to adjust the school year to a blended learning mode of classes. This technique involves the use of digital devices and the Internet. For lessons, printed and digital modules will be delivered to students. Broadcast media will also be used for teaching purposes. Various universities have ventured in similar modes of instructions.

However, in countries like the Philippines where the quality of Internet connection is poor and gadgets are not that accessible to many, the new normal in education is indeed a struggle. According to a study by the Asia Pacific Journal of Business Review, the Philippines has an average Internet speed of just 2.8 mbps, ranking 104th among 164 countries. Furthermore, data from the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) show that only five million out of 20 million households in the country have Internet access. Distractions make it more difficult for the students to study at home too.

The new normal truly poses a challenge, but it has a bright side as well. Based on the Pearson Global Learner Survey (PGLS), the cost of online learning is lower compared to conventional education. Also, this will make learning more student-centered, enabling more of them to unleash their full potential. The world is now gradually transitioning to virtual-based education and the survey further says that 76% of the respondents actually prefer e-learning.

Meanwhile, New Era University (NEU), along with few other universities in the Philippines, has championed the online delivery of education in the country. Since 2010, students from around the world have enrolled in the online education offered by the university now named NEU Virtual Learning Environment (NEUVLE). With its advanced technology, learning techniques, and years of experience, NEU is ready for the new normal. We hope that the entire country succeed in its effort to efficiently deliver education amid the challenges the world is facing right now.

Education in this era is indeed very challenging. But, why don’t we consider this as a test of will? Yes, each of us has varying privileges in life, but we should take every opportunity—no matter how small it is—to start a new way forward.

The new normal brings so much pressure on our studies, but we should focus on our ambitions. In the road leading to our dreams, giving up is never an option. Together, we will navigate through this pandemic and reach the success that we all long for.