Group slams DepEd for its ‘failure’ to provide needed infrastructure for learning continuity plan

Published June 11, 2020, 12:00 AM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Merlina Hernando-Malipot

A federation of teachers hit the Department of Education (DepEd) for insisting to push through with the school opening and all other related activities without providing the needed infrastructure for public school teachers and schools.

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) said that the DepEd is putting at stake the own resources of teachers in the implementation of Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) for school year (SY) 2020-2021 scheduled to formally start on August 24.

Raymond Basilio, secretary general of ACT Philippines (ACT / MANILA BULLETIN)
Raymond Basilio, secretary general of ACT Philippines

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio alleged that DepEd’s BE-LCP is taking a toll on teachers’ resources as the “hefty costs of its implementation are already denting their pockets this early.”

The month-long enrollment in public schools started on June 1. Due to the COVID-19 situation in the country, DepEd implements a teacher-led, remote enrollment system wherein the previous class advisers of learners will reach out to the parents and guide them in the registration process.

ACT noted that aside from expenses incurred while communicating with parents, the planned blended/distance learning program of DepEd when the school year officially starts will also add up to their current expenses.

Among the expenses that teachers will take on, ACT said, include the purchase of laptops or repair/upgrade of old personal ones, mobile data and/or internet connection, load for contacting learners and parents, higher utility costs, and the production and reproduction of learning materials.

The group alleged that the agency’s failure to provide the required infrastructure for its meant that teachers will again shoulder these costs.

“On the other hand, the national government—who holds billions in funds for social services—saves on its expenditures, particularly in terms of school operations and maintenance, not to mention the unpaid labor and additional work given to them beyond their job descriptions,” Basilio said.

Unfulfilled support

DepEd’s promised support, ACT furthered, remains “undelivered” at this point and will hardly cover the additional costs that the alternative modalities entail.

Basilio noted that DepEd vowed to provide on-hand laptops to 100,000 teachers “but no such thing has taken place despite the two-week work-from-home arrangement.” ACT said that DepEd noted that the P3,500 yearly chalk allowance will be used for internet expenses – despite it only being enough for around two months-worth of connection.

“The budgets for webinar training expenses have reportedly been short and varied across regions, notwithstanding the same telecom charges nationwide,” Basilio said.

“Now, we’re also getting reports that reproduction expenses for modules that teachers have been tasked to make as well will be reimbursed later,” he added.

Moreover, ACT expressed concern on education access and quality which is “bound to suffer if the government continues to turn a blind eye to teachers’ and parents’ woes.”

Given this, the group challenged Education Secretary Leonor Briones and DepEd’s commitment to learning continuity by urging her to demand bigger funding from the President so the agency may do its mandate.

“The education sector suffered the second biggest budget cut due to fund realignment for the government’s COVID-19 response, yet we still have nothing to show for it in terms of containing the pandemic,” Basilio said.

Since DepEd and Briones insist on opening classes, Basilio said that they “must be rigorous in ensuring substantial material support from the President to make it happen.”