Will there be a domino effect next year?

Posted by: Dave Your Military4 minutes ago

With the recent resignation of Secretary Sara Duterte and a newly released Global Assessment Report ranking Philippine students second to last when it comes to creative thinking, the Department of Education is beset with numerous concerns about learning outcomes.

The findings of a study by the Philippine Development Institute and the Second Congressional Commission on Education (EdCom II) on lost instructional time were not surprising. The 53 days of instruction lost due to the implementation of the new curriculum and constant changes in learning methods may have contributed to a worsening learning environment for students, the remnants of which are visible in the new school year starting on July 29. As we make up for the lost days of instruction from the previous school year, what can be done to minimize the impact on students?

The shortened school day and lost instructional time have created a huge burden on teachers, mainly in classroom management and efficient teaching, as teachers skip some prerequisite topics due to limited time allotted for classroom assignments and exercises. Hence, achieving classroom proficiency may be far away.

As parts of the country endured extreme heat, in-person classes were switched to online teaching for several months, primarily through asynchronous online methods. Teachers struggled to reconnect with students, re-engage them, and continually assess their progress. However, students’ social and emotional needs were not being adequately met.

According to Allington (2005), instructional time is often lost due to managing student behavior, routine administrative tasks, interruptions, delays, and other off-task activities.Despite DepEd Order No. 2, s. 2024 or the immediate repeal of administrative duties for public school teachers, these situations still exist in public schools, resulting in a significant reduction in teachers' valuable instructional time.

The reduction in instructional time has led to an increase in many problems, including poor comprehension, poor literacy, attendance, digital divides among students, inconsistent structured routines, ineffective assessment of learning, and an increase in reported cheating.

With face-to-face contact reduced to a minimum, important questions arise: How is classroom time being utilized compared to that prescribed by the Ministry of Education curriculum? Did teachers utilize the time effectively and efficiently for learning? To reduce the loss of allotted class time, teachers made efforts to create awareness of the shortened class time, established strong classroom management practices, and utilized class time for its intended purpose.

However, as an adjustment to the suspension of classes, various Alternative Learning Delivery Modalities (ALDMs) for continuity of teaching and learning, such as blended learning and online classroom learning, have placed both teachers and students in a difficult position. At the core of ALDMs are reflective learning outcomes and knowledge requirements (Rasmitadila, et al., 2020), but this is difficult to achieve as artificial intelligence (AI) is disrupting offline and online education systems. It has also become evident that AI-generated learning outcomes, such as online outputs and tasks, are being called into question as their authenticity and accuracy as a measure of students' academic performance and growth are in doubt.

Some teachers lacked educational resources, materials, support and guidance to navigate the transition from short 20-minute daily face-to-face lessons to online teaching. The biggest need at the time was to give teachers an opportunity to prepare interactive learning materials that dive deep into topics that could easily teach students about different models, designs and approaches of blended learning.

It was also evident that the interruption and loss of instructional time resulted in reduced student attention and less aptitude and understanding of lessons and concepts. Promoting learners to the next level without the necessary requirements and skill sets, exacerbated by reduced classroom contact, will undoubtedly result in significant learning losses, the impact of which will be felt and visible well into the coming academic year.

Indeed, time is the greatest enemy of freedom: will the next school year be able to make up for lost days, or will it create a domino effect due to existing learning problems and challenges?


Dave Yu Militar is a grade 12 teacher who took part in EdCom II's consultation on teacher education and training, one of the Commission's priority areas. He is one of many education stakeholders consulted by EdCom II in its national consultation programme, which has the mandate to assess and review the country's education system. The views expressed here do not represent those of any organisation or institution.

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