By Elmer M. Cataluña and Jay O. Directo

In the Republic, Plato states that “our need will be the real creator.” This led to the idea that necessity is the true creator and mother of all inventions. It became apparent as the pandemic created the necessities that birthed new innovations. We in Taligaman National High School of Butuan City Division felt this necessity, and we acted on a mission for accessible education.

Challenges

Looking back, the Department of Education responded to the health crisis by crafting the Learning Continuity Plan (LCP). It utilized alternative learning methods such as online, pure modular, radio-based, and blended learning modalities – all conducted at the homes. Remote “home-classes” became the buzzword. The set-up was new to many. Yet, for former Regional Director Francis Cesar B. Bringas, CESO V, the LCP only went back to the old school. He said, “The new educational landscape has brought us back to the place where education ought to start, that is, in the homes.”

We never thought that our parents would carry the added burden of being teachers to their children. No doubt, they needed our help. And so, we met and talked with them at the school, and we assisted them in retrieving the learning modules for their children.

But they had a tough time dealing with the modules. “Kalisod ba aning kahimtanga, ma’am/sir; maglisod mi ug explain sa among mga anak sa mga leksyon,” they said. Others lamented the financial burden they had incurred saying, “Kamahal na kayo sa pamilete ug palaliton karong panahuna, naapektuhan gyud among panginabuhian sa pabalik-balik sa eskwelahan para mukuha ug modules.”

Intervention

We took their grievances seriously, and we tried hard not to let them feel abandoned, ignored, or disregarded. As we listened to them, we felt we had to find ways to lessen their newfound teaching responsibility’s pedagogical and financial burden. That is why in TNHS, we launched Project R.E.A.C.H or Remote Educational Assistance for Continuous learning at Home.

This project brought the learning resources (SLM, LAS, Summative test, references & video clips) closer to our learners’ homes or locality. Using a single-board mini-computer such as the Raspberry Pi, the learners or parents can directly access digital copies of learning resources through their cellphones. The system does not require an internet connection or cellular network signal since it generates an auto hotspot and creates a local network for file sharing. After copying the files, users can work offline in the comfort of their homes. It is ideal for remote learning or distance education. The device can be powered by an ordinary cellphone charger or a power bank.

Our teachers also utilized the device for other purposes. In complex topics like problem-solving in Math, broad concepts in Science, technical demonstration in TLE, or steps to follow in MAPEH exercises, they can embed in the uploaded files video clips or tutorials from trusted sources. The students may copy them to their phones and watch them as they go through the modules. As per experience, these interventions have enlivened the discussions as they also shed light on the lessons found in the digital copy.

Results

This ICT-based device installed within the school premises addressed the concerns of our students and their parents. It reduced the financial cost of module distribution, and it eased up the parents’ teaching responsibility. They waved their hands for help, and so we extended our hands to reach out – because it is our commitment.

“Dako gyud nig tabang sa akong mga kabaranggay. Dili na nila kinahanglan pa muadto sa eskwelahan para mukuha ug modules, dili na sila mahasol ug maayo sa ilang panginabuhian nga nisamot kapait aning panahuna sa pandemiya,” said Hon. Randy Jagonos, Barangay Captain of De Oro. He appreciated the project’s efficiency and convenience. His barangay was the first beneficiary of the project because the area is distant from the school and several TNHS students resided there.

“Nindot siya, ma’am/sir kay matibo na man gud ang pagkuha sa mga modules. Naa na tanan sa cellphone. Dili na mi magsigeg adto sa eskwelahan. Diri ra mi sa among lugar,” said a satisfied parent after downloading the needed files for her child.

“Ok kaayo ni para sa amo, ma’am/sir. Mas sayon na sa amo ang pagsabot sa leksyon. Bisag asa pwede mi makatuon sa modules gamit lang ang cellphone. Usahay, gina-cast pud namo sa among TV para dako ang screen,” said a student delighted by the versatility of the system.

Students from the nearby Barangay Antongalon and the mountainous areas of Tagulahi and Imelda also availed themselves of the Project’s services through the assistance of their respective SK chairpersons who became process owners of information dissemination and operation. Since the gadget is portable, it can be brought to different locations in their barangay as scheduled.

Realization

Through Project REACH, we in Taligaman National High School gave flesh to the adage, “It takes a village to educate a child” – because we forged a strong bond of cooperation between the local government unit and the community in the promotion of education. We, therefore, assured our students that we are here to help them achieve their dreams and become productive members of society. However, for as long as the pandemic lingers, it will continue to create more challenges and necessities in the future. But even then, we will still be there to take on a mission for accessible education: “Para sa batá, para sa bayan.”