What Happens to Philippine Education and Employment amid the Pandemic
THE ONGOING CORONAVIRUS OUTBREAK HAS CREATED A DEVASTATING impact on over 180 countries across the globe. What started in Wuhan, China in December 2019 as pneumonia of unknown cause became a pandemic in just three months. The severity of the number of cases crippled in no time has raised alarming concerns worldwide.
Reports of deaths, scarcity to public health, shortages, and economic failure intensify globally. Various countries plan out to combat the rapidly increasing effects of Covid-19. The Philippines, however, failed to prevent further impacts of the pandemic.
Covid-19’s Chain of Effects Blows PH Economy
By 2020, the country experienced its worst recession of the post-war era due to the Covid-19 crisis. This year, although economic activity progressed, the country is still struggling to recover. There can be various reasons as to why until now the country is still on the lookout to find the best solution to win against Covid-19.
As a third-world country, whose financial resources are limited, the Philippines is at a disadvantage to provide necessary healthcare needs both to its health care workers and people affected by Covid-19.
Along with this are the other national concerns preceding the coronavirus pandemic. Nonetheless, it is undeniable that the management of the Covid-19 crisis was problematic.
The Philippines, of all countries, has the longest record of lockdown. This data, on its own, doesn’t appear so damaging. Not until we’ve learned that the efforts of community quarantines or lockdowns lead to futile results.
These month-long, on and off lockdowns still fail to flatten the curve which is its supposed goal. Unfortunately, community quarantines became passive means to respond to Covid-19. No matter how many names the quarantines put on from General Community to Enhanced Community Quarantine, it wouldn’t change the data that it did not prevent the Philippines’ economy from falling. With the pandemic-induced lockdowns and social distancing protocols, the country not only suffers from a health crisis but also economic distress.
Thousands of establishments closed and millions of Filipinos lost their jobs amid the Covid-19 pandemic. There was a huge decline in the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) rocketing down to -4.2 percent in the first quarter of 2021.
This number stands better compared to the 9.5 percent drop in GDP in 2020 which was the largest decline since WWII. Education, at the same time, had to confront a new system of learning and piles of modern challenges. Nobody was ever prepared for this and regrettably, our country had a hard time adjusting.
The Fight for Education in a Time of a Pandemic
Attaining a good education is already a difficult endeavor for millions of Filipino youths in a normal set-up before the pandemic. To have the education system altered promptly in the presence of modern distractions, and still pursue treasured learning will require much more than the normal.
Social distancing restrictions caused educational institutions to adapt to a new norm of facilitating education or if not, be forced to face closure. The transition from traditional face-to-face classes to online and remote learning is a big leap in adapting to an entirely new set of practices.
This is a very challenging pursuit both for educators and learners. And if this hasn’t convinced you yet, know this, the Philippines is not ready for a digital type of learning. The country placed 110th with its internet speed worldwide.
Filipinos have a too slow internet connection for conducive learning. Furthermore, our digital and technological resources are insufficient. Not every single Filipino youth has the necessary gadget or internet connection to chase after their desired education.
The youths have called for an academic freeze amidst the coronavirus outbreak. Yet, the Department of Education stood up to its decision and proceeded with the new normal academic set-ups. The Covid-19 pandemic impelled the academe and the students to maximize the platforms for e-learning even when it is not ready for it.
There were four current academic set-ups used nationwide to pursue education in such a time as this. The first is online learning. This type of learning is only facilitated using the internet. Students with this academic setup learn from virtual platforms. and online tools.
The second is distance learning. Here, the teacher conducts classes with her students but they are geographically remote from each other. With this, the internet, computer, laptops, android phones, and any gadget capable of conducting remote learning is necessary.
Next, is modular learning. It provides students with self-learning modules in the form of printed modules and activity worksheets. Lastly, flexible learning is basically just a combination of digital and non-digital technology. Flexible learning allows students to decide what kind of learning will best suit them.
In spite of these academic setups, there are worries of the long-term effect of remote learning on the quality of education given to learners. In addition, the sharp drop in enrollment this year has caused an immediate concern for the Department of Education (DepEd). Almost four million students fail to enroll this academic year as the pandemic continues to ravage the education system.
Pandemic Effects on Employees and Enterprises
The Covid-19 crisis has brought significant change in the country’s small, medium, or micro-enterprises, labor market, and workers.
Due to the Covid-19 crisis, the latest jobless rate plunged to 8.1 % in August 2021 from the 6.9% reported a month before, according to the Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA). That is, almost four million Filipinos are jobless at the time of the coronavirus pandemic. Periodic lockdowns and inconsistent quarantine guidelines contributed to the nation’s huge economic losses.
Social distancing and temporary shutdowns of establishments in addition to consumer’s faltering confidence in the market greatly affected the incomes of small businesses which in the end led some into closing their businesses.
Hence, the production and labor of thousands of Filipino workers. Some of these businesses might be just start-up companies, beginning to venture into the business world; some are possibly managing hundreds of workers who were majority breadwinners of their families. But, with an unprecedented global crisis, they were forced to stop with nowhere to turn to to provide for their current needs.
Some of these unfortunate enterprises that faced the adverse effect of coronavirus at its worst are gyms, fitness centers, spas, internet cafes, salons, and dine-in services. Another sector that suffered the overwhelming economic impact of the pandemic is the transportation industry primarily the jeepney and bus drivers. For almost a year, the ongoing outbreak keeps the drivers off the road.
“Soaring beyond the waves of impacts of the ongoing global pandemic can be achieved only through a holistic effort from the government, its departments, and its citizens”
Their presence on the road changed when they were left with no choice but to beg. For someone who works and toils from dawn to midnight, this was distasteful but again, it was their last resort during a pandemic.
These workers may not be directly affected by the coronavirus but they suffer almost the same casualty brought by it by not being able to work and provide for their families.
The Department of Trade and Industry moreover stated that 10% of enterprises closed their operations due to Covid-19 this year. This is despite the restrictions allowing more consumers and more businesses to resume operation.
This pandemic cripples both small and big enterprises, old or new businesses. Many have lost a lot during the two-year ongoing adversity. And yet, many are still fighting to put together once again, little by little, their pandemic bruised crafts and jobs.