The shift to online classes due to the COVID-19 pandemic has led to a series of challenges for the education system. Decades of deep-seated problems and injustices have emerged and are exacerbated as Filipino teachers and students adapt to the “new normal” brought by the health crisis.
AGHAM Educators in partnership with Gantala Press held an online educational discussion (ED) and zine-making workshop on October 11, 2020 which tackled the difficult experiences of teachers and students regarding online learning during the pandemic.
The online ED brought to light the current situation of online learning, detailing the inequalities and risks faced by students and teachers due to the lack of support from the government in preparing for this kind of transition.
“Indibidwalistiko at eksklusibo ang edukasyon sa Pilipinas … wala na itong tuon sa malasakit sa kapwa at bayan. Kanya-kanya nang diskarte,” Mike Mantala of AGHAM Educators said of the neoliberal treatment of the Philippine education system as merely an economic investment. In online learning, information and communication companies benefit the most, while children of farmers and other marginalized communities scramble to acquire their own learning tools and gadgets, not to mention keep up with the lessons while keeping the virus at bay.
How are farmers expected to help their children with their lessons if the parents themselves have not gone to school? If the children need to contribute with the farm work so the whole family can eat? If farmers are forced to go even deeper in debt just to afford the phones, tablets, or laptops that online learning requires? These are just some of the challenges of online learning. In Isabela, eleven teachers tested positive for COVID-19 in the course of doing their duties.
The zine-making workshop demonstrated how zines — small, do-it-yourself publications that are cheap and easy to make — can be used as teaching materials, as well as a site for resistance.
“How can we reflect how we feel about online education through found images and texts?… Nag-eexist na itong text na ito, itong images na ito pero ginamit natin siya [sa zine] to express a new idea,” Roma Estrada of Gantala Press shared about promoting zines as an effective and creative medium in dealing with online learning, and ultimately in forwarding an education that is mass-oriented, scientific, and nationalist.
To learn more about online learning, check out this webinar organized by Amihan National Federation of Peasant Women, Rural Women Advocates, and Alliance of Concerned Teachers.