DepEd chief hits fake photos of teachers’ woes

Janvic Mateo - The Philippine Star
DepEd chief hits fake photos of teachersâ woes
“On the day of the school (opening) itself, there were fake photos that circulated,” Education Secretary Leonor Briones said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News/TV 5 last Friday night.
DepEd Facebook Page

MANILA, Philippines — Education Secretary Leonor Briones has assailed the use of fake photos to highlight problems during the opening of classes, apparently referring to images of teachers who dramatized their concerns with distance learning by climbing atop the roof of their school in Batangas last Oct. 5.

“On the day of the school (opening) itself, there were fake photos that circulated,” Briones said in an interview with “The Chiefs” on One News/TV 5 last Friday night.

“It was clear that they were posing. They looked like they are part of a chorus line, raising their hands at the same time, looking at the camera and fully made up,” she added in Filipino.

Several media organizations including The STAR ran the photos showing the teachers on the roof of a building at the Sto. Niño National High School to get better mobile signal for their online activities.

Subsequent reports noted that the teachers were dramatizing their concerns when the photos were taken, indicating that it was staged for media coverage at the time.

Briones noted that there were cell sites in the area, disputing claims of weak signal in that particular school.

Education officials said they were investigating the incident, with additional details expected to be released at the weekly press briefing tomorrow.

In an advisory on Thursday, DepEd said it received “reports of false information and malicious, staged photos” making the rounds on social media.

“DepEd is keen to investigate these activities and exhaust all legal remedies to ensure that only accurate information will reach our stakeholders,” it said.

“The public is also advised to verify such information or photos with DepEd before sharing, for the best interest of everyone still adjusting to the transition to distance learning,” it added.

At the online Kapihan sa Manila Bay last Wednesday, Teachers’ Dignity Coalition chairman Benjo Basas noted concerns on the veracity of the photos of teachers on the roof of the school in Batangas.

But whether it was staged or not, he stressed the reality that connectivity is an issue for many of the teachers and students nationwide.

Earlier, Briones admitted that connectivity is a continuing problem, but noted the menu of options for students included the use of printed self-learning modules and education through radio and television.

She said the fact that the country was able to open classes despite the challenges posed by the pandemic is a victory in itself.

“This school year is very different from earlier school years… We had barely four months (to implement) a very dramatic pivot into our approach to education because of COVID,” she said.

“We had four months to prepare but our decision is that learning must continue. Education must continue,” she added.

For Briones, the criticisms they receive, including the curses directed at her, “emphasize the fact that we really need to educate our learners and also the adults.”

Resolve issues

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) expressed concern over the problems encountered during the first week of classes, saying it has to be resolved immediately to prevent disruption or even push students to drop out of school.

“DepEd 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,” said ACT secretary general Raymond Basilio.

Among the issues cited by the group are reports of school-level transmission of the virus, errors in modules, lack of gadgets, unstable internet and heavy work and study load for teachers and students, respectively.

“The problem of virus transmission in class-related activities is sure to bog education continuity down, as well as worsen the country’s health crisis if not quickly addressed,” said Basilio.

Meanwhile, the DepEd denied a report that 10 teachers in Isabela were infected with the coronavirus during the distribution of modules.

But it confirmed that nine of them tested positive for the disease after being exposed to a co-teacher who reported for work after an initial negative result from a rapid test.


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