For over a year, Filipino students across the country have been fighting the same battle under distance or flexible learning. No school was fully prepared for this, where teachers and students alike are still struggling under the new system of learning implemented by the government amid the pandemic. As days went by, learning has become even more complex, to the extent that students cry for help.

Like many other students, Viscans cannot help but feel tired and anxious during these times. Aside from having to deal with online classes and activities, many are wrestling with slow internet connection, part-time jobs, household chores, and personal problems.

Here, we get to know the Viscans who admit their struggles with flexible learning.

Mary Rose E. Aseniero finds it hard to adapt to the new system of education. The need for internet connection has pushed her to travel for miles in order to complete online tasks.

"During the start of the pandemic, there were no public Wifis in our place. I also lacked gadgets and decent internet connection. But because I am a student obliged to finish my tasks, I usually go up to the mountain to catch a signal. Sometimes, we go to distant towns to avail a WiFi connection. Ever since the university decided to stop the distribution of printed modules, I need to, again, adjust on how to use the online learning platforms.”

Janice C. Macalam, a sophomore Biology student shares how her life was put at risk in search for a decent internet connection.

“Keeping up with distance learning is truly hard since the signal in our area is very unstable. There was a time where my brother and I got into a motorcycle accident just to find a stable internet connection. Luckily, we did not sustain serious injuries. What is more challenging about distance learning is that I have no comfortable place to learn and I can’t seem to find the connection between the student and the instructor unlike before. Sometimes, I am worried about ending up being incompetent in the long run due to this kind of set-up.

Freshman biology student Rheyno Bacareza admits that juggling online classes and work is a challenge for a working-student like him.

“I juggle everything — studies, part-time jobs, and household chores. Sometimes, I could not help with other chores because after work, I immediately do my activities to comply with them on time. I am having a hard time understanding some of my lessons, especially with my laboratory activities because we are not guided whenever we answer our tasks. I am not sure if I can survive the succeeding academic years if the situation stays the same. It is a burden for us students who do not have accessible learning resources.”

Carmel Jagonos, an environmental science student, admits that this set-up has taken a toll on her mental health.

“Every time I check my phone, I cannot help but feel anxious whenever I see new sets of worksheets, activities, and other tasks. Sometimes, I would say to myself ‘I cannot do this anymore; this is too much.’ But when I think about my future, the people who believe in me and those who support my studies, I try to be positive. I always ask for God’s guidance to help me overcome my struggles. I know these will end soon, that is why I need to fight. “Bahala ug hinay, basta way undangay.”

Third year BS Agriculture student called “Tan-tan” expresses his frustration when the university decided to halt the distribution of printed modules.

“I was happy during the first semester because VSU decided to provide us with free printed modules. At least I knew that I had the chance to catch up with those who chose online modality. But today, relying purely on online classes is very difficult. Spending money on load data just to experience a slow internet connection is so frustrating. I always end up explaining to my instructors why my activities are always submitted late, especially to those inconsiderate ones.”

BS Biology student Lelette Lyle Corona shared that the lack of resources makes perseverance tiring and difficult.

“It feels like no matter how I try to finish my work I feel like there’s no progress. I am bombarded with everything, from my learning activities, house chores, and anxiety. Since I live on an island, we have a weaker internet connection and unstable electricity. I don't feel the same energy to study here at home and in this setup compared to when I was in school. Time limited quizzes and exams are also a struggle, and I find it hard to focus because of too much pressure from finishing the tasks on time.”

A third year student called ‘Sess’ calls out instructors and professors who are inconsiderate when it comes to workloads and deadlines.

“I think VSU should talk to some of its faculty. There are those who are very inconsiderate when it comes to deadlines. Some of them are fond of giving us a bulk-load of activities without even inviting us to a single google meet event. There are those who are difficult to reach during consultations yet very active in handing out learning tasks.”

Sophomore geodetic engineering student Yhogen Julve shared how difficult it was to conduct practical skills activities in flexible learning.

"I don’t think I can manage to survive the succeeding school years if the current learning setup will still be implemented. In the first lab class in one of my subjects, we need to locate control monuments in our town based on the master list given to us. The problem is, there are only two monuments located in our municipality so we had to locate other monuments in other municipalities. It was harder because some of these places required approval from the LGU to gain access in these areas.”

A 3rd year BS Chemistry student called ‘Liza’ shares how frustrating it is to conduct laboratory experiments at home.

“It really is hard to imagine experiments by just staring at a computer screen. Skills-based courses such as mine should be given extra attention because we might end up as incompetent chemists in the future. I am now even starting to doubt myself if I will be capable of pursuing careers in chemistry in the future.”

As cliche as it may sound, the lack of motivation to learn is a real case for students who are left with no choice but to settle with flexible learning. We recognize the good features that flexible learning can offer as an alternative to face-to-face classes. However, let us not forget that we have relative living conditions where not all can meet the standards that flexible learning demands.

Flexible learning should never become a norm. Letting it stay for years is like admitting defeat and not realizing its drawbacks. These students alone do not deserve these stories of struggles and no one should. Does the government need more stories before they heed the student’s call towards a more safe and inclusive education?

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