Jan 11, 2021

MANAGING THE VIRAL SPIRAL

"Life goes on under Covid19" by Lyka
"Life goes on under Covid19" by Lyka

As we have moved on to 2021 with some hope and tentative optimism, we want to thank you wholeheartedly for supporting the FPVI Learning and Development Program especially at a time when the call for help was more urgent and more critical than in other times.

Amid the many challenges before us in COVID-19 times, it is heartening to know that resilience, in all its forms, prevailed among the children in our care, with FPVI working collaboratively with their parents and guardians.

We have started to document the children’s experiences over the past 10 months at the end of 2020. Their sketches and artwork, their stories and thought pieces, and their drive to understand a time they have never experienced before have allowed them an outlet to share their emotions, revealing that they have grown---not only physically---in the process. We hope to be able to share the film with you soon.

We at FPVI are happy to be able to serve as the children's support at this time, and we shall continue to be their safety net in times to come.

Sep 14, 2020

Uncertainty is the only certain thing in COVID-19 times

Chasing a signal under the blue sky
Chasing a signal under the blue sky

The start of the school year has been moved again to October 5 because the COVID-19 cases continue to rise. Under this circumstance, FPVI continues its own version of Distance Learning for the children in its care with the monthly assignments consisting of book reviews, grammar exercises, math and science lessons, with side projects in journal keeping and art. With regular follow-ups from FPVI and with the help of their mothers, this exercise is proving to be helpful not just for the children’s productivity and continued engagement but also as a dry-run for a similar learning format that the Philippine Department of Education is planning to adopt for those living in remote areas like our FPVI students.

The children have been coming to the FPVI Center only once a month to receive individual and group feedback on their assignments and briefing for the next set of work, and collect their care packages. Also, they present their respective art works to the group. The last assignment was a “self-portrait” but not necessarily physical depiction. Having enjoyed the collage project in July, the children’s August self-portraits were exercises in creative use of found materials. Here are two examples:

 I am a jolly person and like singing and playing the guitar. The colors represent my personality and I like to help others color their lives with my colorful wings. ---- Gaby

 I compare myself to a bamboo tree---it is strong and hard to break, withstanding typhoons, storms, flooding. In my life, I try to be strong and resilient when I encounter problems. --- Hannah

The four college students who were under the FPVI program in their senior high school have their classes online under the misplaced assumption by the schools they are attending that all students have access to both technology devices and good internet connectivity. They don’t, and so in the absence of internet access where they live, they go out to the open fields where they get a signal using their precious and limited mobile data sometimes on borrowed phones. There they do the downloading of lessons. When quarantine regulations are eased and they are allowed to enter the town proper, they do their online lessons, quizzes and assessments at FPVI Center where the internet connection is more reliable than the rice field wifi.

Jolly Gaby
Jolly Gaby
Resilient Hannah
Resilient Hannah
Downloading class materials in the rice field
Downloading class materials in the rice field
May 27, 2020

Remote Learning, FPVI way

Remote Learning, FPVI way

(in the absence of photos, we invite the readers to create from their mind’s eye

images that would go with this narrative)

With school classes suspended when the quarantine was enforced in mid-March, two weeks away from the end of the school year, FPVI sessions were also suspended, as was the FPVI Summer Program that the children were looking forward to. Gone too was the 10-day Summer Camp for 60 elementary pupils in a small barangay (village) where they were to be reading mentors. COVID-19 has brought the realization to FPVI that the ubiquitous mobile phones are not created equal, or more specifically, not all mobile phone users are created equal. If you think touchscreens are the norm in this day and age, think differently, for in this remote hinterland town where FPVI is located, the antiquated flip phones are more popular than smartphones due mainly to economic and practical considerations. The mobile phones used by the families of our FPVI fellows are the basic tiny flip type, with the keypad and screen, and no internet access. Short text messages are what they are good for; rarely are they used for calls, and therefore not very useful to conduct online lessons. Or so we thought.

The absence of a learning environment and structure in dire circumstances at home under an extended period could cause the children to lose a lot of the learning momentum at school and at FPVI. In re-calibrating the idea of effective learning remotely, FPVI has devised a way to make the antiquated phones work for the children: by putting a regular credit on each family’s phone, FPVI is able to reach out to each child by text message or call; they then are encouraged to text or call if they have questions and need clarifications. Very basic form of distance learning but this system has ensured continued contact between the children and their parents and guardians, and the FPVI Center. Each child received a care package plus materials for their assignments: milk, chocolate drink, biscuits, bars of soap, hand sanitizers, journal and drawing notebooks, bond papers, crayons and colored pencils, pens, pieces of multi-colored clay, origami papers, and vegetable seeds requiring short turnaround time to grow that they can plant in their backyards. Their assignment includes journal-keeping to record their thoughts, experiences, and observations under quarantine not just to keep them occupied but to some extent help them process this disruption in their lives and routines. They were to keep a sketch/drawing notebook of their surroundings, an attempt to make them more mindful of nature around them. And to sustain their reading and comprehension skills, they have short essays to read and work on (one each week) with questions to answer at the end. They also have a book that they picked to prepare a book review on---the assignment they took home at the start of the quarantine.

 The opening of the new school year is now being contemplated for August 2020 instead of June. Meantime, FPVI’s improvised remote learning will continue. The children have also been assured that when the quarantine is lifted and when it is safe enough to resume the weekend sessions at FPVI, they will come back to their learning routines, the camaraderie they enjoyed and the nutritious weekend meals they shared.

 
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