Student, Teacher Welfare Prioritized During Crisis and Beyond
The education sector in the Philippines continues to be challenged by the pandemic for years now. In an attempt to cope with the circumstance, schools have adopted a remote learning system to avoid the disruption of classes and ensure students’ and teachers’ health and wellness. After more than two years, resolutions to the crisis have progressed not as much as they should.
Despite the urgency, a few academic institutions have already somehow managed to come up with solutions to address the setback in the delivery of education; at the same time, to prioritise students’ and teachers’ welfare within their institutions.
The Mapúa University branch in Davao City, Malayan Colleges Mindanao (MCM), has long established a learning system which works as a convenient response to the issue of Philippine education amidst the pandemic. MCM has also initiated several comprehensive wellness programs that includes promotive and preventive services for their students, teachers, and staff.
The outbreak has deeply highlighted the needs of every learner which now signals for new upgrades in the education sector.
Leveraging technology, MCM introduced a blended learning system when it first came to Davao City. Having established it for four years and running, the school has since constantly updated and already expanded its learning system with supplementary programs to ease every student’s learning journey.
During the initial months of the pandemic, MCM took an initiative to develop an advising program called eTutor. The eTutor supports students through guided lessons on their challenge areas and offers learning motivation to ensure that students learn effectively even online.
Homeroom advising, student clubs, and student-teacher consultations are as well implemented to focus on student concerns and strike a balance between the academic and non-academic student life.
Dr. Flora Mae C. Yparraguirre, MCM School Principal, said these initiatives were crafted to promote the well-being and welfare of the students and faculty especially in the time of pandemic.
“The initiatives were crafted in order to aid and assist the students and faculty to course through with the academic demands relative to teaching and learning considering that it is done remotely. The pandemic caused a shift in the educational landscape which put much pressure and imposed many challenges on students and teachers,” Dr. Yparraguirre explained.
In preparation for the next normal, MCM has espoused the hybrid flexible learning set-up to provide their students learning options once the government allows the conduct of face-to-face classes. This new set-up marries face-to-face and online learning together, giving students three options for school participation: in-person classes, synchronous online classes, and asynchronous online classes.
The transition to the new normal has not only raised concerns on the conduct of classes but also called attention to the wellbeing—mental health, especially—of both teachers and students. Given the urgency of continuing classes online, isolation has become a primary stressor in the pandemic.
As a way to effectively deal with the pandemic strains, MCM has emphasised the importance of wellness by initiating programs such as regular check-ups and help group support to ensure the physical health of its employees, and promote a sense of (online) community among them.
MCM also coached its faculty and staff to advocate the same for its students. Site visits were conducted to align the school’s health guidelines and protocols with its partner companies to guarantee students’ safety while under onsite work immersion program. MCM employees were also trained to handle mental health crises in psychological first aid initiative programs.
Initiatives like the Psychosocial Support Intervention Program, E-counseling, and Wellness Wednesdays were also implemented to provide students with various outlets for mental health in the form of one-on-one sessions or online social activities.
Over the years, the pandemic has brought focus to the needs of instructors and students in education. Hence, it is only appropriate that schools work collaboratively with them in delivering an effective and up-to-date teaching and learning system, and support their overall wellness by providing healthy working and learning spaces.
“Given that MCM integrated technology as early as 2018 (before pandemic) in the delivery of learning, the shifting to distance learning was not that difficult with the aid of the learning management system. The advantage also is that faculty members have sufficient training on the use of technology that highlights flexibility and accessibility. Continued updating of skills through seminars and training as well as upgrading learning technologies for the benefit of the students, this is what MCM is committed to do,” Dr. Yparraguirre said.
MCM continues to maintain the initiatives it had started and create new dependable programs to place the well-being of its community at the core of its mission.
Learn more about MCM at mcm.edu.ph.