60% of teachers yet to be trained for distance learning
This undated file photo shows students participating in a physical class.
The STAR/Boy Santos, File

60% of teachers yet to be trained for distance learning

Gaea Katreena Cabico (Philstar.com) - June 25, 2020 - 4:26pm

MANILA, Philippines — Two months before the opening of the new school year, only 40% of the country’s 800,000 public school teachers have been trained for distance learning, prompting senators to express concern on the preparedness of the Department of Education.

Some 337,486 have been so far trained on technology-based instruction as the country’s education system shifts to distance learning due to the threat posed by the coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

“Malapit na po ‘yung August 24 for school opening. So papaano po ito? Kung ready na po ‘yung 40%, papaano po ‘yung 60%?” Sen. Francis Tolentino asked during a Senate hearing Thursday.

(The school opening on August 24 is getting near. If 40% of the teachers are ready, what about the remaining 60%?)

DepEd officials said the National Education Academy of the Philippines will conduct “massive training” in July to help educators prepare for the coming school year.

“We hope to be able to provide the training for our fellow teachers this coming July, the remaining 60%,” DepEd Undersecretary Diosdado San Antonio said.

“Let it also be known that in addition to the training by the Information and Communications Technology Service, there are also local initiatives from the division offices, regional offices. The teachers are also being given training activities, in fact a few schools have also been doing the training of their teachers,” San Antonio added.

'Blended' learning amid pandemic

The DepEd proposed various alternatives to traditional in-person interactions such including online classes, printed modules and instruction delivered through television and radio once School Year 2020-2021 opens on August 24.

Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian said the COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that teachers in the country “are not trained and equipped in terms of distance learning.”

“Talagang magaling sila sa physical teaching but since meron tayong ganitong pandemya, nakita natin na ngayon lang ginagawa to (Teachers are really good in physical teaching but since we have this pandemic, we have seen that it is only being done now) and of course, doing it in haste is not the best way because we will leave a lot of details and we will not get the full optimum level of teaching when we do it in haste,” he said.

In a statement Thursday, Sen. Risa Hontiveros said it should be the responsibility of the DepEd to provide laptops and wi-fi allowance to public school teachers.

Sen. Grace Poe, for her part, filed a resolution urging the executive department to grant teachers in public elementary and secondary schools internet allowance.

Lack of access to devices and internet connection is not only a problem of students, but teachers as well with some educators reportedly setting up tents on the side of a highway to attend an online seminar.

DepEd yet to print modules

In the same Senate hearing, DepEd said it has yet to print self-learning modules for students.

“We should all be honest. Inaayos pa po namin pero magiging ready na ‘yan by August 24,” DepEd Undersecretary Tonisito Umali said.

“Printing of materials usually takes 30 to 60 days, including deliveries,” he also said.

But Umali assured senators that lessons for the first quarter have already been prepared.

Around 13.8 million students have enrolled in public schools nationwide as of June 25.

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