The disruptions caused by COVID-19 pandemic in the education sector challenged the schools in the country to continue providing quality education to every student. The Philippine Science High School System (Pisay) of the Department of Science and Technology is not exempt from these challenges.
However, Pisay was able to pivot and adapt to the new normal as mirrored from the webinar held during the 2020 National Science and Technology Week celebration, where it shared the strategies on how to continue providing quality science education to the country's future scientists despite the pandemic and the challenge posed by slow internet connection.
Multisectoral task force
Pisay Executive Director Lilia T. Habacon explained that Pisay set up a task force with 26 committees that allowed them to customize and holistically respond to every issue they faced. This task force is made up of Pisay constituents who brought diverse perspectives in the system. Likewise, they consulted the faculty, parents, students, industry and other sectors on issues on administrative concerns, curriculum development, teacher education, information technology, and student services, among others.
Different committees to protect the overall health of the students, teachers, and staff; academic learning integrity; and emotional support for students and faculty were also set up. “A committee coordinates with public health authorities so that education actions are in synchrony and help advance health goals and strategies,” Habacon explained.
Pisay also implemented academic breaks, a period when students can recharge their physical and emotional ‘batteries’. Habacon explained that during academic breaks, students are not expected to submit any homeworks, exams, and any other means of performance assessment.
Meanwhile, Pisay teachers enjoyed professional development programs to support learners in the new modality of education. Also, those students and families belonging to the most vulnerable sector have received the necessary support while Pisay is adopting remote learning.
Further, Pisay offered a bridging program to fill in the lessons missed by students when classes last school year were suspended. This was due to the initial community quarantine that was implemented earlier this year.
Bridge programs focuses on essential topics and skills required for the following school year, according to Pisay Ilocos Region Campus Director Dr. RonnaleeOrteza.
Orteza explained that last August, students and teachers were able to experience online learning which served as a trial period. This was crucial since Pisayis shifting to online learning for the next school year. She added that they were able to explore different strategies, materials, and platforms that are suitable for their learning.
“At some extent, the bridging program prepared them for the demands of remote learning,” Orteza said. “Teachers were able to practice remote teaching and to create instructional materials that they believe to be relevant to their students.”
Pisay Knowledge Hub
The Pisay community also implemented, for the first time, the Pisay Knowledge Hub. S K-Hub for short, it is an online learning management system featuring learning materials for students and assessment tools for teachers. It has supplementary materials that students can download and then study offline, at their own pace, provided they still abide by the set deadlines.
Incidentally, Pisay Bicol Campus Director Engr. LorviPogorogonadded that even before the pandemic, Pisay has been looking for ways to make its top science education accessible through digital technologies. Because of this, both the students and teachers, were able to adapt to the new modalities.
Pisay MIMAROPA Campus Director Edward Albaracin, on the other hand, emphasized the importance of quality control of instructional materials. According to him, all materials underwent peer reviews and revisions to ensure that they meet the quality standards before reaching the students.
Pisay also took seriously the suggestions and grievances they received from parents, teachers and students. They analyze emails, social media posts, and news from various media outlets to get feedback on the implementation of remote learning.
In the end, all of these innovative learning strategies have helped Pisay continue providing quality science education to its students. Pisay hopes that other schools can learn from their strategies and experiences. (By David Matthew C. Gopilan, DOST-STII)
DOST-Philippine Science High School Executive Director Lilia T. Habacon
Dr. RonnaleeOrteza of DOST-PisayIlocos Campus
DOST Pisay Bicol Region Campus Director Engr. Lorvi Pogorogon
DOST-Pisay MIMAROPA Campus Director Edward Albaracin