Manila Bulletin

Leyte town stu­dents need to walk 4 kms just to get cell­phone sig­nal

- By MARIE TONETTE MARTICIO Education · Tacloban City · Burauen · La Paz · Baguio City

TACLOBAN CITY – Learn­ing un­der the “new nor­mal” has been a chal­lenge for both stu­dents and ed­u­ca­tors as they try to cope with the dis­tance learn­ing meth­ods. De­spite adopt­ing mo­du­lar-based learn­ing in ar­eas with no sta­ble In­ter­net

con­nec­tion, stu­dents still need In­ter­net ac­cess to com­mu­ni­cate with their teach­ers and for re­search.

Jaira Crys­tal Paza, a 17-year-old Grade 12 stu­dent from Ma­hag­nao, an up­land vil­lage in Bu­rauen, Leyte, needs to hike at least 4 kilo­me­ters with her friends to get to a neigh­bor­ing town just to be able to ac­cess the In­ter­net.

Jaira is cur­rently en­rolled at the Hi­bunawan Na­tional High School, where she is on top of her class. She is an as­pir­ing flight at­ten­dant.

For a sim­ple query, they have to walk to Lanawan vil­lage in MacArthur town since it is the near­est area that has ac­cess to a mo­bile phone sig­nal.

The nearby Can­si­boy vil­lage in their town also has cell­phone sig­nal. How­ever, they pre­fer to walk to the next town be­cause it is just 5 km. away.

“My friends and I, in­clud­ing other stu­dents here in Ma­hag­nao, need to go to Lanawan when­ever we need to do some re­search or ask for clarificat­ions from our teach­ers in our chat group. We're lucky if we get a re­ply in­stantly. Some­times we need to wait for 2-3 hours to get the an­swers that we need,” she shared.

Jaira and her friends would help each other in an­swer­ing their mod­ules, es­pe­cially the lower years even if they came from dif­fer­ent schools in Bu­rauen and La Paz towns. They would list down all their ques­tions be­fore they walk to Lanawan for an hour at least twice a week.

“We do not know any­one there. We usu­ally leave af­ter lunch and head home at 3 p.m. so we would reach home be­fore night­time. It's tir­ing but at least we have friends who walk with us," Friza Joy Agrava, a 15-year-old Grade 10 stu­dent of Bu­rauen Na­tional High School (BNHS) said.

Jaira and her friends would also make use of their time in Lanawan to down­load learn­ing ma­te­ri­als or read on­line ref­er­ences to re­in­force their learn­ings, es­pe­cially that the teach­ers are not with them to ex­plain some con­cepts just like in a face-to­face setup.

Pearly Ann Agrava, a 15-year-old Grade 11 stu­dent of BNHS, con­sid­ers her class­mates who have ac­cess to cell­phone sig­nal lucky since hav­ing a cell­phone alone is al­ready a lux­ury for them, and yet, they have to spend ₱10-₱50 for load which most of their par­ents can­not af­ford to shell out for them.

Al­though they are thank­ful that they do not have to spend ₱600 monthly for their fare to their schools which is eight to 18 kms away, they still pre­fer to at­tend face-to-face classes when the coron­avirus dis­ease (COVID-19) pan­demic is over.

About 100 high school stu­dents in Ma­hag­nao, one of the farthest vil­lages from the town proper, re­ceive their printed mod­ules from their schools with the help of vil­lage of­fi­cials and par­ent-lead­ers.

Ma­hag­nao is the home of the fa­mous Ma­hag­nao Vol­cano and Nat­u­ral Park, a 635-hectare forest­land sur­round­ing Ma­hag­nao Lake, which has an el­e­va­tion of 860 me­ters. It’s cool en­vi­ron­men­tal con­di­tion has earned it the so­bri­quet as the “Lit­tle Baguio” of Bu­rauen.

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