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Lost year

Schoolyear 2020-21 is either done or about to be completed for most school-aged kids in the country. Based on the feedback of my kids and my own observations of how they’ve been “educated” from the comfort of home over the past year, I’d call it a lost year. To be fair to the school officials and teachers who tried what could be classified as their best, most kids probably learned something but as a parent, I get the general feeling that the educational system failed them this year.

Given the gross disconnect between learning and grades over the course of this academic experiment where our kids were the test subjects, nobody should be allowed to fail this year. Everyone who went through the educational system should just be given a pass and all institutions of higher learning should give a long, hard second look on all the grades earned and given throughout this year when the entire educational system could be considered lost.

If we had a competent and dynamic educator at the helm of the Department of Education instead of a super senior citizen, the education of our nation’s kids in the midst of a global pandemic might have had a chance. Instead, the educational system simply lost its way due to the lack of vision, leadership and a roadmap. For SY 2020-21 any “educator” was allowed to do whatever they deemed right (or easy) over the course of an entire schoolyear.

If I come to think of it, if I could do it all over again and particularly didn’t care about character building, I probably should have told my kids to cheat their way through what is going to be a wasted schoolyear that would essentially mean nothing in the long run.

Because everybody in charge was caught flatfooted by the pandemic and nobody actually knew what they were doing, students that get good grades this year will always have an asterisk beside those marks. There are so many ways to cheat the weak systems that were hastily put in place so there is no way of telling which students got the grades they deserved.

On the flip side, whoever gets bad grades may not get the same asterisk, but there will be a host of easy excuses for poor marks because despite an entire year to make constant adjustments and at least get it close to right, no school can claim to have gotten their online learning program to work properly this school year.

This lost year is hell for university admission officials who don’t know what kind of grades are being given away for SY 2020-21 and at the rate this government is going, possibly for 2021-22 as well. Should they accept the grades as fact, or do they adjust to process to recognize the brokenness of the system during these lost years?

I’ve always told my kids that their grades don’t matter to me as much as the effort I see them put in. This was much easier when they were younger but now that they’re in their teens and higher education is in the horizon, we cannot help but become more conscious of grades. Good grades are the best way we can get access to better opportunities, especially for families that have ambitious targets like snagging scholarships in universities outside this unfortunately godforsaken country.

Whatever educational system our DepEd and schools have decided to adopt during this pandemic sucks. To be fair, this is probably an international problem but when you have a government whose core competency is mediocrity and low standards, it becomes extra scary when it comes to our schoolkids’ competitiveness. It seems like the DepEd doesn’t care what happens as long as schools have an online program and private schools don’t care about whatever system they’ve put in place as long as parents have already paid tuition.

When SY2020-21 finally started, I was ok with it being a lost year because I knew schools weren’t ready. The thinking then was at least my kids won’t waste an entire year doing nothing. As the school year started, I started to think we could pull this off and schoolkids would benefit. However, as the year progressed without much improvements and the frustrations mounted, it started to become clear that we were losing more than just time. The educational system was losing its way and nobody was doing anything about it.

This school year is now about to end and from the looks of it, the next one will be a rerun. If there are no changes in the way things are done, it is going to be another wasted year. Hopefully the country’s educators will have learned something from this year and they are determined not to lose another school year to Covid, mediocrity, apathy and the lack of innovation.*

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