By Merlina Hernando-Malipot
Teachers warned the government that all efforts of Department of Education (DepEd) for introducing blended learning and assuring continuity of learning in the so-called “new normal” will be futile if it will not decisively address the glaring need to provide stable Internet connection.
“Building the needed internet infrastructure is crucial for education in the new normal to succeed [and] DepEd is missing this point,” ASSERT said in a statement.
For the group, the “sorry state of our internet connection is the number one hindrance in ensuring access and equity in education today.”
ASSERT noted that gadgets and laptops, ICT tools and webinars will work favorably only with stable wifi access. This precondition is also applicable to the DepEd Commons – the online portal of DepEd which could be rendered “useless without reliable internet connection.”
The group said that currently, the internet speed in the Philippines is at 15.1 mbps while the global average is at 26.12 mbps. “We ranked 103rd out of 139 countries [and] 61% of the 23 million households in the country have no internet access,” it added.
An estimated 27 million students of basic education and the almost one million teachers who will be using the internet to access learning and resources.
“Imagine the internet traffic we will all be experiencing and the adverse effect it will have on online learning and on other internet-dependent facets of life and work,” it added.
ASSERT also called the attention of DepEd on the low subscription level to its online portal.
While DepEd Commons currently boasts of over 8 million subscribers, the group pointed out that this is a “mere 25.9% of the 27 million students of basic public education.”
ASSERT said that even if the disadvantaged learners are able to access online lessons, “they will just be left on their own [because] their parents are at work during the day and they cannot afford to pay for tutors.”
The group of educators reminded that the goal of education and of the government should be to “electrify the countryside and build the needed internet infrastructure.”