Grade school student Bhea Joy Roxas (centre) uses a smart phone as she joins online classes inside a passenger jeepney at the Tandang Sora jeepney terminal in Quezon city, Philippines, Oct 5, 2020. (Photo: AP/Aaron Favila)
MANILA: Grade school and high school students in the Philippines began classes at home on Monday (Oct 5), as the health ministry reported 2,291 new COVID-19 infections and 64 more deaths.
The health ministry said total confirmed cases in the Philippines have increased to 324,762, the highest in Southeast Asia, while deaths have reached 5,840.
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced remote learning onto an educational system already struggling to fund schools.
The shift to distance learning has been a logistical nightmare for the poverty-stricken Southeast Asian country that has long lacked enough classrooms, teachers and educational equipment.
Nearly 25 million students enrolled this year, mostly in 47,000 public schools nationwide that would have to be replicated in homes and enlist the help of parents and guardians as co-teachers.
A majority of families, especially from poor and rural communities, opted to use government-provided digital or printed learning materials or "modules", which students will read at home with the guidance of their elders before carrying out specified activities.
Most lack computers and reliable Internet connections. Teachers can answer questions by telephone.
Other families preferred for their children to get lessons online or through regional radio and TV educational broadcasts.
"The system may not be perfect and there may be issues as we shift to flexible learning ... but we are confident that the Department of Education would address these challenges," presidential spokesman Harry Roque said.
The students have been out of school since classes were suspended in mid-March.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said classes should resume only when a COVID-19 vaccine has been made available, fearing classrooms could become infection hotspots.