Teachers' group to DepEd: Revise 'failed' blended learning plan or postpone class resumption

Bella Perez-Rubio - Philstar.com
Teachers' group to DepEd: Revise 'failed' blended learning plan or postpone class resumption
Taguig Sanitation Office sprays a disinfectant solution at bus terminals and schools to contain the possible spreading of COVID-19.
The STAR / Edd Gumban

MANILA, Philippines (Updated 6:57 p.m.) — A teachers' group on Wednesday urged the government to either revise its plans for the resumption of classes or to postpone it altogether, citing what it called the failed state of preparations thus far.

“To DepEd and the rest of the Duterte administration: Your time is up to prove that we can safely open classes on August 24 and every child’s right to accessible quality education will be guaranteed," Alliance of Concerned Teachers Secretary General Raymond Basilio said.

"We challenge DepEd to revise their entire plan such that the health and safety of its constituents will be ensured while learners’ right to meaningful and relevant education is delivered."

Two weeks before classes are set to reopen, Basilio said that ACT has already logged 36 COVID-19 infections among teachers along with a number of fatalities.

He said this while pointing out the absence of clear and comprehensive health measures from the government for teachers, students, school workers and parents.

During a press conference hosted by ACT, teachers further alleged a severe lack of overall support from the government, which they say has left both educators and students alike scrambling to prepare for the fast approaching resumption of classes amid the COVID-19 crisis.

'Modular learning but no modules yet'

The Quezon City Public School Teachers Association during the online conference revealed that they have not yet received the necessary modules for distance learning from the DepEd.

According to QCPTA president Kristhean Navales, the department has so far only released guidelines on how to print the modules once they are available. He added that these guidelines were released just a few days ago, mere weeks before classes are set to resume.

Navales said he is unaware of whether DepEd is currently printing modules and questioned the department's ability to have them ready by August 24.

In response to this alleged inaction, he said that some teachers from other provinces are creating and printing their own modules and are paying with their own money to do so.

He further claimed that while there are some government subsidies that they may make use of to print their own modules, it would not be enough to cover the whole cost.

Before classes have even resumed, Navales said six teachers have already been infected with COVID-19, one of whom has since passed away. In addition to this, there are three suspected COVID-19 cases awaiting confirmation.

'Push for online learning, leaving localities behind'

Meanwhile, the Pasig City Public Secondary Teachers Association said its teachers, along with scrambling to make their own modules, are struggling to fund the materials needed to shift to an online format.

Myrvene Tesorero, PCPSSTA president, questioned that the current setup of making a Messenger group per class, when class sizes in public schools can average up to 60 students.

In addition to the challenges such a setup would present to the quality of learning, Tesorero pointed out that a number of teachers and students alike are struggling to find the funds for gadgets and internet connection.

As a result, she said teachers are lining up to take out loans from DepEd in order to buy laptops, while some students are bartering household items so that they can buy cellphones and access Messenger.

Tesorero futher explained that while Messenger may be used with free data, teachers and students alike need access to the internet for other resources.

She said this severely limits the capability of a whole class, along with a teacher, to be online at the same time.

Tesorero added that the reverting of Metro Manila to a modified enhanced community quarantine is working to further aggravate the economic challenges that come with online learning.

Older teachers fear adjustment to tech-based teaching

Another member of ACT, a teacher from Navotas City who asked to remain anonymous, relayed similar issues with modular and online learning to Philstar.com

They further stressed the struggles faced by senior citizen teachers who are preparing for the major shift in schooling.  

"Many teachers are worried, especially the seniors because they can no longer keep up with technology...the time to prepare is too short, especially since until now we still do not have the modules," the ACT member said in Filipino.

The source confirmed that their school has yet to receive a module from DepEd, which has pushed teachers to make their own. 

In addition to this, they said many students and parents in their area do not have sufficient gadgets for online learning. 

A number of those who do have gadgets, the source said, also have more than one child who may need a laptop or a cellphone for online learning. 

"For many of us, our gadgets are outdated and we are paying for our own internet....this is an additional burden, especially for teachers who have children and parents to support with their own small salaries," they added in Filipino. 

According to the source, the only funding teachers have received is the regular chalk allowance of P3,500 for the whole school year — a budget that Sen. Grace Poe has called wholly insufficient. 

"All in all, teachers are scared especially as cases are rising here [in Navotas]. How will we make the modules available if the parents are not able to get them and the barangay cannot distribute them? Even if we find a way to distribute them, retrieving them is another factor [which presents possible health complications]," the source said in Filipino. 

They added that three teachers from their school have already been infected with COVID-19.

The Department of Health on Tuesday logged another record-topping 6,532 COVID-19 infections, bringing the national caseload to 112,593 and fatalities to 2,115.

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