A federation of teachers on Monday expressed concern that the Department of Education (DepEd) is unprepared for the opening of classes for the upcoming school year.
Citing recent enrollment data from DepEd, the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines said that around seven million learners who have not enrolled for the coming school year and the 19.5 million whose education are “bound to suffer” due to the agency’s unprepared learning modalities under the new normal.
Two days before the extended enrollment period ends and the deadline set by Senate Committee on Basic Education chairman Sen. Sherwin Gatchalian for the agency to achieve at least 80 percent readiness, ACT alleged that there is no “substantial progress” on DepEd’s preparations. Should DepEd fail to meet school opening requirements the senator said he will recommend the postponement of class resumption.
ACT noted that that July 15 deadline also coincides with President Duterte’s announcement of his decision on whether to continue the Aug. 24 opening based on the concluded enrollment data as announced by DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones.
“We are deeply troubled at the rate school opening preps are going,” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said. “DepEd’s failure to prove substantial progress on immediate requisites for a safe return to schools and accessible quality education may very well lead to the postponement of classes,” he added.
Basilio noted that unless the national government invests a considerable amount of resources and DepEd grounds itself on the situation not just of its personnel and learners — but on the entire crisis-ridden country — then “we fear that its learning continuity program will fail to meet even its own limited objectives.”
ACT said that the biggest problems “disproportionately suffered by disadvantaged families remain unresolved” by the Duterte administration, thus, constraining their chances of “continuously accessing basic and essential services.”
For the group, the unrelenting spikes in COVID-19 cases as well as the unfolding extensive job loss are the “primary roadblocks” which confronting millions of Filipinos at this time.
Basilio also noted while there are more than 19.5 million learners who have enrolled for the school year (SY) 2020-2021, “this does not necessarily mean that all of them will push through with or complete the school year.”
“Due to the uncontained pandemic and the destitute state of the majority of Filipinos, more may be expected to join the at least five million learners whom DepEd anticipates to defer enrollment this year,” Basilio said. “One child left behind is one too many, and the government is duty-bound to ensure each and every Filipino’s exercise of all of their constitutionally guaranteed rights,” he added.
Given this, ACT demanded that aside from enrollment figures, the national government must also pay “significant attention to vital preconditions” to warrant the safe reopening of classes and to ensure that current generation of learners will not be shorthanded by an “out-of-touch and unprepared education program.”
“As for us teachers, we are committed as ever to the future of our students and our nation as a whole, and we expect nothing less from this administration,” Basilio said. “Hence, beyond the minimum and non-negotiable requisites for safety, accessibility, and quality, we are calling on the government to employ an actually responsive and pro-people approach to education and to the entire crisis we are facing.”