Despite DepEd denial of mass dropout, student participation in classes 'waning' — ACT

Christian Deiparine - Philstar.com
Despite DepEd denial of mass dropout, student participation in classes 'waning' � ACT
Students in uniform answer their learning modules during an online class under DepEd's blended learning system this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The STAR / Miguel de Guzman

MANILA, Philippines — A teachers' group on Thursday said that while the education department has denied claims of a massive dropout in distance learning, student participation in classes as well as in turning in requirements had been dismal months since the new setup began.

Education officials this week sought to refute claims that many had quit school in the middle of the year in a pandemic due to problems birthed by the distance learning.

But the Alliance of Concerned Teachers said that while such is the case, "many students have barely shown up in online classes or have hardly submitted their class requirements."

"Sa totoo lang, nahirapan ang ating mga guro na mag-compute ng grades para sa first quarter dahil halos walang ico-compute sa maraming bata," said Raymond Basilio, ACT secretary general. "They may not have formally dropped out of class, but they are essentially not participating and not learning."

(To be honest, teachers have had difficulty in computing grades for the first quarter because there is barely anything to compute from many students.)

Groups have long objected to DepEd's decision to push through with resuming classes when Filipino families are grappling with the economic and social impacts of the pandemic, but officials have answered that learning should continue despite the health crisis.

The move would see 25 million students enrolled, but two million from figures in 2019 would opt to skip the new school year, along with problems in internet access, errors in modules and others having no means for gadgets.

Further, the ACT cited as well survey results by the Movement for Safe, Equitable, Quality and Relevant Education showing that 54% of teacher respondents said a significant number of students in their classes are not able to keep up with the lessons.

"Our teachers are very much worried with the waning student participation in the government’s distance learning program but are only giving out incomplete marks instead of failing grades or delisting students from the rolls as we understand their difficulties under distance learning amid the pandemic," Basilio added.

DepEd has called the allegations of mass dropouts as misleading, saying in a latest statement that "there has been no clear indicator" of such as a result of the distance learning.

Officials, without presenting concrete figures, said students had either transferred schools or shifted to modules-based learning in a bid to support the assertion.

"Learners did not drop out from school," the agency said, "but they either shifted from one mode of learning to another or migrated from one geographical location to another. Learners' migration is observed due to the economic impact of the pandemic."

The ACT is seeking better support from government for the education sector, which includes appropriate gadgets, internet subsidy and a clear plan to safely reopen schools, which DepEd has yet to present with resuming in-person learning still uncertain with the country facing the threat of the new variant of the coronavirus.

"We were hoping that the Department Education would be equally concerned about the matter and act swiftly to address the grave education crisis that we face today,” Basilio said in mixed English and Filipino. "These are the solutions that teachers, learners and parents alike have been waiting from the government for four months now, but where are these now?"

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