Go urges DepEd to complete 'new normal' action plan for education

Published June 26, 2020, 5:38 PM

by manilabulletin_admin

By Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go today urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to map out an action plan to address concerns and issues that might arise in the upcoming school year as the education system adopts blended learning methods to protect students from the deadly coronavirus disease (COVID-19).

Sen. Bong Go (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN)
Sen. Bong Go
(Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, also reminded concerned agencies to work together to provide for alternative, remote learning methods that could ensure education access even for students who have no internet connection.

The senator from Davao has staunchly supported President Duterte’s call to disallow face-to-face learning until it is deemed safe or until a vaccine for COVID-19 is available.

President Duterte earlier suggested the use of radio as a mode of distance learning given that it is the most accessible form of media even in far-flung areas.

“Meron pa rin sa ating mga estudyante ang walang access sa internet. Dapat siguraduhin na mabigyan pa rin sila ng oportunidad para maituloy ang kanilang pag-aaral,’’ Go said. (There are students who do not have access to internet. We should ensure that they will be given the opportunity to continue their studies.)

“Kaya naman po hinihikayat ko ang DepEd na gawing mas accessible at inclusive ang kanilang mga programa para sa mga kabataan kahit saan mang parte ng bansa sa pamamagitan ng online at offline methods of teaching,’’ he added. (This is why I am urging the DepEd to make their programs accessible and inclusive to our youth wherever they are in the country through an online and offline methods of teaching.)

A global framework formulated by the United Nations Children’s Fund; United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the World Bank (WB) recommends that, for the safe re-opening of classes, focus should also be on other learning modalities to reach areas without internet connection.

Go earlier recommended to the education sector to maximize the use of available media, such as television and radio, to facilitate distance learning among students.

“May available multimedia platforms na pwedeng gamitin at airtime sa radyo at telebisyon na dapat allotted for educational programs. Ayon sa batas, pwede po itong gamitin bilang alternative mode of teaching and learning,’’ he pointed out. (There are available multimedia platforms that can be used, and airtime on radio and television that should be allotted for educational programs.)

Go cited Republic Act (RA) 8370, also known as the Children’s Television Act of 1997, which requires a minimum of 15 percent of a network’s daily total air time to programs that further children’s positive development.

Meanwhile, state media company Intercontinental Broadcasting Corporation (IBC-13) has offered to use its television facilities as a remote learning platform. The proposal should enable DepEd to air curriculum-based programs when the school year reopens.

“Sa planong ‘blended learning’ ng DepEd, dapat masiguro na hindi lamang online learning ang focus nito kundi pati na rin ang ibang modalities na hindi nangangailangan ng internet connection,’’ he said, (In the planned ‘blended learning’ of DepEd, it should assures that the focus is not only on online learning but it should also include other modalities that do not require internet connection.)

Go also said that teachers must be given sufficient training in the use of various multimedia platforms for teaching.

Given the ongoing health crisis, he reminded DepEd that educators should also be ready to provide psychosocial support to their students.

Go stressed that students with disabilities should be considered in the implementation of the plan. The integration of social and emotional learning should also be emphasized given the ongoing pandemic which has affected the lives of students and their families.

“Ayaw po nating maantala ang klase, ngunit prayoridad natin lagi ang kaligtasan at kalusugan ng mga Pilipino,’’ he said. (We do not want to delay the classes, but our priority is the safety and the health of the Filipinos.)

“We will take this one step at a time so that we can slowly, but surely, ensure that education continues without compromising the safety of our students. Kahit ayaw nating maantala ang klase nila, importanteng safe sila,’’ he added. (Even if we do not want to delay their classes, what is important is that they’re safe.)

Go also urged the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and other concerned agencies to work together to fulfill the vision of providing universal internet access that is stable and affordable for all Filipinos.

“Sa panahon ngayon, lahat nagta-transition na to online. From E-governance, E-commerce and also online learning. Importante na hindi po maiwan ang bansa pagdating sa pagkakaroon ng access to the internet. Malaki po ang maitutulong nito para mabigyan ang kabataan ng oportunidad na makapag-aral at makapag-trabaho sa ‘new normal’ na haharapin nating lahat,’’ he said. (At this time, all is transitioning to online. From E-governance, E-commerce and also online learning. It is important that the country will not be left behind when it comes to having access to internet. It is a big help if the youth will be given the opportunity to study and can work in the ‘new normal’ in the future.)

Meanwhile, DepEd has been developing its Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan to cope with the pandemic.

The plan directs schools to implement blended/distance learning modalities wherein lessons will be delivered to the students in their homes.

Under the plan, DepEd has developed a learning portal called “DepEd Commons” where online learning resources are published. Television- and radio-based instruction is also part of the plan.

As for students who lack access to these technologies, DepEd’s plan is that they will be provided with printed or digital modules to be delivered to their homes, or picked up by their parents at designated areas, within coordinated schedules for learners.

The use of printed self-learning modules is an alternative to digital learning. These printed modules will supplement the TV broadcast and radio-based instructions being strategized by DepEd.

“Siguraduhin lang po na maaksyunan ang planong ito sa paraan na walang mapapabayaang Pilipino,’’ he urged. (Just ensure that this plan will be acted upon in a way that no Filipinos will be left behind.)

Go also suggested to DepEd to work with local government units (LGUs) which may have the capability to provide free internet access to address concerns of students who may be financially constrained and cannot afford to pay for internet connectivity.

In line with this, Go filed Senate Bill (SB) 396 last year which seeks to amend the Local Government Code of 1991 by expanding the uses for which the Special Education Fund (SEF) taken from the additional one percent on real property tax may be spent.

The bill will enable LGUs to utilize the SEF to operate Alternative Learning System programs as well as provide for the salaries, allowances and other benefits of ALS facilitators.

Go recently reiterated his call for its passage recognizing that the measure would provide LGUs the flexibility they need to maximize available resources to help their public schools adapt to blended learning techniques.

Meanwhile, Go commended the enactment of Republic Act 11476 which institutionalizes Good Manners and Right Conduct (GMRC) and Values Education as integral and essential parts of the K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum.

He acknowledged the efforts of his co-authors and the sponsors of the measure while thanking the President for signing it into law.

“This new law will help mold the youth into upright and responsible members of society, instilling in them family values and love of country. Bukod sa magandang edukasyon, importante ring maituro sa kabataan ang magandang asal, pagmamalasakit sa kapwa at pagseserbisyo sa bayan,’’ he said. (Aside from good education, it is also important that good manners, right conduct and service to the country are taught to our youth.)