Class conflict: Preparations, debate over school opening
Class conflict: Preparations, debate over school opening
LATEST UPDATE: November 30, 2020 - 3:01pm
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3 days ago

International students have arrived in Australia for the first time since the country shut its borders to curb coronavirus in March, with a charter flight touching down in Darwin on Monday.

Australian universities have been leaking cash due to the country's indefinite border closure, which has locked out foreign students who keep the billion-dollar sector afloat.

A plane chartered by Charles Darwin University (CDU) carrying 63 international students arrived in the northern city of Darwin as part of a pilot programme aimed at kickstarting the higher education industry.

The students — from mainland China, Hong Kong, Japan, Vietnam and Indonesia — travelled to Singapore to catch the flight and will now spend 14 days in a government quarantine facility.

The mix of new and continuing students are enrolled across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate courses including law, nursing and engineering. — AFP

November 26, 2020

The University of the Philippines will implement a 'no-fail' policy for the current semester, the Office of the Student Regent announces.

The Office of the Vice President for Academic Affairs will release guidelines for the policy, where no grades of "4" (Conditional)  or "5" (Fail) will be given.

 

November 12, 2020

Filipinos dealing with the aftermath of a series of major typhoons cannot continue classes under current conditions, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan says in a release as it demanded that classes and other academic work be postponed until the 19th.

"As Typhoon Ulysses continues to wreck havoc in Central Luzon and the Greater Manila Area and southern Luzon still grappling with widespread flooding, power outages and intermittent internet signals making distance learning of any kind practically impossible," the group says.

"We demand the suspension of ALL classes and submission of academic requirements in ALL levels NATIONWIDE until November 19. Millions need decisive action from our government officials NOW," it also says.

October 29, 2020

The UN and World Bank plead in a new report Wednesday for schools to remain open despite COVID-19 risks, highlighting the damage the pandemic has inflicted on children's education, especially in poor nations. 

Children in impoverished countries have been deprived of close to four months of schooling since the pandemic began early this year, while pupils in rich nations benefiting from remote learning have lost six weeks, the report said. 

"Prioritizing reopening schools and providing much-needed catch-up classes are critical," says Robert Jenkins, education chief at the UN children's fund UNICEF. 

"We don't need to look far to see the devastation the pandemic has caused to children's learning across the world," he adds in a statement. — AFP

October 9, 2020

A group of teachers warns of class disruptions and drop-outs if the problems have not been resolved a week after classes were opened.

“The Department of Education should objectively assess and boldly address the critical problems experienced in the first week of school opening, rather than patting its own back for its imagined success. If the agency has any foresight, they should know that the school year they opened is hanging by a thread,” says Raymond Basilio, Alliance of Concerned Teachers secretary general.

October 6, 2020

The resumption of classes on Monday was not a victory as claimed by Education Secretary Leonor Briones, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan says in a statement.

"Our leaders look at the millions disenfranchised and call it victory. They look at the teachers contracting the virus and march forward. They look at the millions of dropouts and four students dead and call it a new venture," the group says.

"You send millions to school with an underfunded and exclusive education system that leaves millions out anyway. Opening classes does not mean that you have accomplished the slightest thing. We have raised our voices for six months, and you have sat on your hands watching dropouts rise. This is not victory over COVID-19, this is the defeat of common sense," the youth group adds.

October 5, 2020

Education Secretary Leonor Briones officially declares school year 2020-2021 open in an address streamed through Facebook.

She says this ends the debate on whether classes should resume and whether the department is ready for the blended learning system required by health and safety protocol against the novel coronavirus.

October 4, 2020
As public school teachers get ready for the resumption of classes on Monday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros calls for government support for them, including the proper medical benefits in case they get sick.
 
She says teachers should also get an additional allowance for internet access and to print out learning materials as well loans for computers and laptops for them to implement distance education.
 
"The government should spend for these because this is part of the teachers' official obligations," she says in Filipino.
October 3, 2020

A group of teachers calls for accountability from the government for "delaying and still failing to ensure the delivery of safe, accessible, and quality education amid the pandemic."

“We’ve repeatedly heard Sec. Briones give thanks to the President over his claimed ‘support’ for blended learning. Yet, after two postponements, President Duterte still has nothing to show beyond lip service," says ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

"This government remains to be unresponsive to the people’s just and urgent demands in relation to school opening at the height of the health and socio-economic crisis. This is a huge disservice to the Filipino people and a violation of the youth’s fundamental right to education, with the President as the main culprit while Sec. Briones was complicit to these injustices,” he adds.

October 1, 2020

A group of teachers urges the Department of Education to rather hire at least "150,000 teachers with own teaching load and not teaching aides to enable either the lowering to five teaching load rather than six or the reduction of class size to 40 instead of 50."

“The shift to remote learning and the lack of ample state support for such has more than doubled the workload—not to mention the expenses—of already overworked public school teachers," says ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio says.

"This will likely result in further decline of education quality and burn out among our educators. In that note, we find it necessary for the government to ease teachers’ workload by hiring more teaching personnel,” he adds.  

September 25, 2020

A group of teachers calls for a "pandemic-responsive" education budget.

"By the group’s modest estimates, DepEd will need P126.9 billion to ensure the minimum requisites for safe, accessible, and quality education," the Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines says.

"The proposal only amounts to a meager 3.1% of the P4.1 trillion 2021 National Expenditure Program (NEP) but will ensure the welfare and rights of at least 22 million students and 900,000 public school teachers," it adds.

September 18, 2020

A group of teachers says it welcomes plan of the Department of Education not to administer periodical examinations for the coming academic year.

But the Alliance of Concerned Teachers says the decision "should not be grounded on cheating and dishonesty concerns."

"The decision to forego periodical exams is a positive step towards addressing these ever-relevant matters concerning the education system. Next step should be to sincerely look into a pass-or-fail evaluation system and find its merits, again based on education’s ultimate aims,” says ACT national spokesperson Benjamin Valbuena.

September 4, 2020

The Department of Education-National Capital Region says it will continue to roll out its initiatives to further prepare public schools in Metro Manila for the opening of classes next month.

DepEd NCR Director Malcolm Garma reports that 14 out of 16 Schools Division Offices have already completed the simulation of the delivery of modules and conduct of classes.

August 27, 2020

A group of teachers slams the government for denying the P65-billion supplemental budget request of DepEd for its learning continuity plan.

“Education continuity cannot be further hampered by this state’s withholding and misprioritization of the people’s money. We call on officials and legislators to ensure the fulfillment of the state’s education mandate starting with allotting sufficient resources for such,” Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio says.

August 22, 2020

A group of teachers urges the Department of Education to release the guidelines for an evaluation and grading system that "corresponds with education’s objective of ensuring learners are ‘well-equipped to understand, respond to, and contribute to society.’"

“As such, we recommend a ‘pass or fail’ mechanism for evaluation that rely more on the students’ ability to exhibit and apply lessons to productive tasks at home and in their communities. This, to us, is more in keeping with education’s objective of arming our youth amid the crises, instead of alienating them from their surroundings and adding unnecessary pressure onto their lives,” says Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

August 15, 2020

Sen. Nancy Binay urges the Department of Education to issue clear guidelines on how private schools that have already started classes will proceed and to allow those which are ready to start classes on August 24 or later.

"So as not to interrupt classes in private schools that have already started, it is better to allow them to continue, at kung ready naman ang school na magbukas, DepEd can give them the flexibility to open on or before October," Binay says..

"While we welcome this move from DepEd, we also have to stress that DepEd should use the deferral as an opportunity to iron out any expected challenges in public schools, particularly access to new learning opportunities, before the opening come October 5," she adds.

August 14, 2020

Private schools appeal to President Rodrigo Duterte to allow them to continue school opening as scheduled. 

"Our preparations for remote learning have been motivated by our desire to resume school operations urgently for the benefit of our learners and also the welfare of around 300,000 teachers and other school personnel in top priority, and this is why we prepared well for online and distance learning modes," says Coordinating Council of Private Educational Institutions. 

August 14, 2020

Education Secretary Leonor Briones announces that the opening of classes on August 24 was postponed. 

"As per the memorandum from the Office of the President, based on our recommendation, we will defer the opening of classes to October 5," Briones says. — The STAR/Janvic Mateo

August 11, 2020

A group of teachers says school heads lament late release of central funds and depleted school funds for module printing for the August 24 opening of classes.

“The stress and pressure our school heads are experiencing right now is yet another substantial proof that we’re not ready to open schools on August 24. And unlike Sec. Briones’ absurd claims of preparedness being relative, it is on the contrary very quantifiable, concrete, and verifiable on the ground," says Alliance of Concerned Teachers General Raymond Basilio. 

August 4, 2020

A group of teachers says they received reports that the modules for this academic year won't be ready by August 24.

“Teachers were also disappointed that while they have been tasked to make the activity sheets that will come with the modules, they have not seen until today the copies of these modules, forcing them to just base the activity sheets on last year's lessons,” says Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

August 1, 2020

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines criticizes the curriculum under the basic education-learning continuity plan for the "lack of content responsive to the present health and economic crises." 

“If anything, forcing ‘normalcy’ at this time will only further alienate students from their own lived experiences of extreme insecurity, which the COVID-19 predicament brought to their family’s health, economic situation, and their future," ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio says.

"Education must reflect the world we live in and is a promising weapon to allow all of us to surmount these crises—this will serve as solid ground for DepEd’s claimed desire to bring hope to learners by arming them to actively participate as we work towards a better normal,” he adds,

July 21, 2020

Education Secretary Leonor Briones proposes to have limited face-to-face session per week for schools in areas with low cases of COVID-19.

In a delayed broadcast of President Rodrigo Duterte's meeting with the inter-agency task force on COVID-19, Briones says allowing limited face-to-face classes will help close gaps in education.

"We can allow face-to-face learning but to be strictly regulated in light of present conditions," Briones says, noting that stringent health standards will be imposed.

July 17, 2020

The Department of Information and Communications Technology says it has allocated P7.7 billion for the implementation of the Free Wi-Fi for All in Public Places and State Universities and Colleges Program.

DICT chief Gregorio Honasan II says the budget will be used to reach 23,100 lives sites by the end of 2021.

“We are aiming to provide every public school and SUC with free Internet connectivity and access to aid our students and teachers adapt to the new normal in the education sector. This is part of our commitment to DepEd, CHED and TESDA to ensure the education sector’s access to broadcast, connectivity and digital security this upcoming school year while the country is still under state of public health emergency,” Honasan says.

July 16, 2020

A group of teachers slam the Department of Education’s readiness to open schools on August 24 as "unfounded" since the agency "failed to present significant strides."

“DepEd is hell-bent on convincing the public that they’re ready to open classes on August 24 without giving substantial evidence to prove their claims, aside from their decorated simulation activities which frankly only showed how unrealistic and inapplicable it is to the real situation of the majority of Filipino families reeling from the crises, and therefore ineffective in delivering quality education," Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio says.

"The showcased simulations were clearly aimed at supporting DepEd’s preparedness claims and not at earnestly assessing the feasibility of safely delivering quality education to all learners,” he adds.

July 12, 2020

The higher education system is not yet ready to resume classes, Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan says, pointing out that even the option of online classes poses a problem for students with no access to the internet.

"The clamor against online classes has failed to go away precisely because [Commission on Higher Education] and school administrators have failed to truly address it. Despite the number of times lack of access to internet or electronic devices has been pointed out, schools have forced schemes like partnering with telecommunications companies instead of simply suspending classes," it says.

"Despite the pandemic taking a heavy toll on students’ personal well-being, CHEd insists on making students pay more attention to academics than taking care of themselves and their families. Even a simple glance at any school’s situation would have revealed such, but de Vera clearly has no interest in taking a moment to assess it."

Philippine Business for Education said last week that suspending classes during the pandemic could lead to a lack of workers, which would hamper efforts to restart the economy.

July 9, 2020

A group of teachers says it is disappointed with the preparations reported by the Department of Education, less than 50 days into class opening. 

The department's bid to "appear prepared by presenting the supposed partnerships it has forged with various government agencies and private corporations only shows how behind the agency is in fulfilling the requirements of its learning continuity plan and how still unclear the mechanics are of blended learning," the Alliance of Concerned Teachers adds.

July 4, 2020

The Department of Education says it is working with the Department of Information and Communications Technology to assist the education sector for the continued delivery of education amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As we examine the achievements and challenges of DepEd in the current pandemic, especially in schools located within community quarantine areas, DepEd continues to emphasize the unique synergy of our two departments closely working together in the delivery of education via the internet,” says Secretary Leonor Magtolis Briones.

July 1, 2020

A group of teaches slams the Department of Education for sending more teachers to communities in order to convince parents to enroll learners as a result of the  underwhelming enrollment turn out.

“DepEd would rather send its untested teachers to scour communities and locate unenrolled students at the height of a raging pandemic, instead of providing enabling conditions for learning continuity. It again resorts to band-aid and risky measures to cover up the glaring problems with its back-to-school plans," says Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

"Without recognizing and resolving the roadblocks confronting parents and learners, the enrolment extension will be no more than a desperate and risky bid to boost enrolment figures,” he adds.

June 26, 2020

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines hits the Department of Education after it "paraded its unpreparedness" again during the Senate hearing on the preparation of the agency’s learning continuity plan (LCP).

“Despite getting IATF’s go signal for the LCP as early as May 11, DepEd still has nothing to show for its prized alternative modalities—no laptops, gadgets for learners and education workers, no print or digital modules for the revised K to 12 curriculum, no report yet on the much-bragged about TV/radio educational programs," says ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio

"Neither has it instituted any health and safety measures at schools. How will learning continue amid the pandemic without these?” questions Basilio. 

June 25, 2020

Sen. Nancy Binay asks officials of the Department of Education officials whether they had carried out school mapping to help identify which areas had the appropriate infrastructure to adopt new learning modalities.

"Hindi ba dapat ngayon pa lang mayroon nang ganitong mapping? Kasi iyong training na ginagawa ninyo sa mga teachers dapat angkop doon sa kakayahan ng lugar, eh. For example, let’s say Bukidnon or Cordillera na alam naman natin mahirap ang signal," she says.

"So why would we train our teachers for an online way of teaching our kids when alam naman natin na mukhang mahirap ang ganoong klase ng pagtuturo?” Binay adds.
 

June 23, 2020

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines urges the Department of Education to suspend the order on alternative work arrangement after "harrowing" reports that teachers were made to physically report without support nor protection against COVID-19 infection.

"This is what happens when a work order precedes the more important plan and directive to install preventive measures in worksites," says Raymond Basilio, Secretary General of ACT Philippines.

"Teachers, including those who are pregnant, of senior age, and with pre-existing conditions in the case of some areas were made to physically report to work without provisions for safe transportation, only to find that many of the schools were not compliant to minimum health standards," he adds.
 

June 13, 2020

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines urges to protect the private school teachers amid low enrollment turnout. 

“If enrolment will continue at this rate, we may have less than a million learners in private schools for this school year, which may mean thousands of school closure, especially small ones that are unable to continue operation due to the lack of sufficient funds from tuition and other miscellaneous fees," says ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

"This in turn will lead to massive lay-offs of education workers,” the group says. 

June 8, 2020

Education Secretary Leonor Briones says the Department of Education will comply with the directive of President Rodrigo Duterte to postpone face-to-face classes until a vaccine for COVI-19 is available.

Briones adds that teachers are being trained on using new platforms and tools for blended learning.

"Radio, television, online and modular learning — which are pre-existing methods and were already used for decades -—are being prepared and updated for this year," Briones says in a statement.

June 6, 2020

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines hits the Department of Education for "wasting teachers' time, efforts, and resources" when they are already pressed for time to finish the things needed for the school opening on August 24. 

“The lack of a comprehensive plan, definite budget allocation, clear and timely guidelines, and coordination among DepEd officials were very evident in the first week of work, resulting to teachers being made to fill in the needed resources and perform tasks that will not even be useful in preparing for the school opening,” says ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

May 29, 2020

A group of teacher launches its Bantay Balik-Trabaho Hotline to monitor the threats to the lives of teachers and education employees who will report to work on June 1, "without so much as mass testing." 

"This hotline aims to provide venue for teachers’ back-to-work woes, and hold the government accountable for neglect,” says ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

The hotlines are as follows: Smart (0949-926-3996), Globe (0953-162-1571), e-mail address (act.hotline@gmail.com) and Facebook (facebook.com/actph1982).

May 29, 2020

A children’s rights organization says the Department of Education must have clear and concrete guidelines on "blended learning" to ensure children's right to education.

“Parents and students are facing uncertainty as school year 2020 approaches, and their apprehension is understandable since the number of active cases of COVID-19 in the country has spiked instead of flattening," says Salinlahi Alliance for Children's Concerns.

"While the blended learning program being proposed by the Department of Education (DepEd) will somehow reduce the risk of coronavirus infection among children, the lack of clear guidelines on how it will be implemented is a valid concern,” it adds.

May 28, 2020

A group of teachers asks President Rodrigo Duterte about his funding commitment for school opening as he now controls hefty amounts of the 2020 budget and 2019 savings through the Bayanihan Law. 

“The Duterte administration’s COVID-19 response shall include ensuring the safety and health of education workers and learners as it pushes to open classes despite the uncontained pandemic. So should it cover the huge costs of the blended modes of learning in keeping with its mandate to ensure the youth’s right to free, accessible, and quality education,” says Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

May 27, 2020

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers raises concerns on what it says is "the unclear and lacking guidelines with regards to school opening" a week before June, the month when the new academic year usually starts.

It cites President Rodrigo Duterte's preference to keep children away from school as long as there is no vaccine for COVID-19 and presidential spokesperon Harry Roque's clarification that only "face-to-face" classes are not allowed during the pandemic.

"Government discord a few days before we're set to return to work leaves us in a restless limbo, adding to our anxiety caused by the still uncontained COVID-19. Officials' conflicting statements make it clear that the country is not actually ready to open schools. As such, we fear that the unpreparedness and premature decisions may put to risk the lives of teachers, staff, and parents," says ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio.

Follow this thread for updates on when classes will resume, and how those classes will be conducted.

Photo: Students wearing protective face masks have their temperatures taken while entering their college campus in Manila on January 31, 2020. AFP/Ted Aljibe

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