With Schools Closed, Covid-19 Deepens a Philippine Education Crisis

Some countries, like Britain, have taken an aggressive approach to keeping schools open, including from late spring into early summer, when the Delta variant surged. While many elementary school students and their teachers did not wear masks, the British government focused instead on other safety measures, such as rapid testing and widespread quarantining.

Where schools have been closed for a long time, such as the Philippines, education experts have expressed concerns that the pandemic has created a “lost generation” of students, buffeted by the limits of remote learning and by overstretched parents struggling to serve as surrogate physics and literature teachers.

Maritess Talic, 46, a mother of two, said she feared her children had barely learned anything during the past year. Ms. Talic, who works part time as a maid, said she and her husband, a construction worker, had scraped together about 5,000 pesos, or about $100, to buy a secondhand computer tablet to share with their children, ages 7 and 9.

But the family — which lives in Imus, a suburb south of Manila — does not have consistent internet access at home. They rely on prepaid internet cards that are constantly running out, sometimes in the middle of her children’s online classes, Ms. Talic said. She has also struggled to teach her children science and math with her limited schooling.

“It is very hard,” she said, adding that the children struggled to share one device. “We can’t even find enough money to pay our electricity bill sometimes, and now we have to also look for extra money to pay for internet cards.”

She said she understood the need to prioritize health ahead of keeping schools opened, but she feared for her children’s future. “The thing is, I don’t think they are learning at all,” she added. “The internet connection is just too slow sometimes.”

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