March 26, 2020 (2:43 PM)

3 min read

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One Ignatian value that the Ateneo ever so stresses is cura personalis – the care and concern for the person in their totality, nurturing each one holistically. In these trying times, cura personalis, above all, should prevail, especially in taking the necessary steps toward academic continuity.

The University declared that it would continue to operate amid the public health emergency. They created measures and trained staff to make online learning possible this summer or even during the succeeding semesters. Claiming its preparedness for fully online registration, payment, and academic delivery, from the traditional classroom setup, the school shifts to a modern technological one.

But no matter how prepared the school is for online instruction, it is futile when the students themselves are not prepared for online learning.

Online learning requires the necessary resources such as laptops or personal computers and a stable internet connection, among others. Unfortunately, this is a luxury that some students do not have. Considering the poor state of internet connection in the Philippines, students in provinces and far-flung areas may not have the privilege of keeping up with online learning. And this could lead to various repercussions, overall leading to a compromised academic performance just because they do not have access to the new means of learning.

As health experts have warned that we have yet to reach the peak in this pandemic, the main concern of the students is, of course, the health and safety of their families. Remember, the first thing that students did when the school canceled classes was to go home to their families, if lucky enough, because home is where they feel safest.

In a public health emergency, academics is not what the students would think about first, but their survival and the fulfillment of their basic needs. Students have different family dynamics and livelihoods, and not everyone can cope well during crises.

This primary concern affects not just their mental, but also their psychological and emotional capacity to learn. Yet again, academic performance is compromised when online learning pushes through because the students would have a hard time adjusting to this abrupt and different means of learning.

The school should also consider how some parents may not have the money to enroll their children next semester. As establishments close and some workers suffer “no work, no pay,” most of their budget would be allocated to cover basic necessities such as food, water, and healthcare. Yet the school demands on-time payment of increased tuition and fees.

Times are uncertain, and necessary actions must be undertaken to adjust. However, these adjustments should cater not just to the privileged few. What assurance do the students have that we will still get the same quality of education in online learning, despite the few weeks of staff training and preparation? What we are assured, instead, is that online learning is selective and insensitive. And as education is a right, not one should be left behind.

So, if the administration still refuses to hear out and address these concerns, the student council who claims to represent the student body should see the urgency to be assertive in their petition for the cancellation of online learning, and be compelling as to why there is a dire need to enact one.

The University must be considerate to their students. Academic continuity is necessary, but timing is also crucial. The students are not prepared to face another semester through online learning in less than two weeks from now. If the school listens to our concerns and understands our situation, only then will cura personalis prevail.


About Sofia Roena Guan - Tabula Rasa

Sofia writes, sometimes, but prefers crunching numbers. A graduating accountancy student, she believes that there is more to life than becoming a corporate slave. Tabula rasa, her column name, means "a clean slate".




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