Teacher's group disputes DepEd’s claim of school opening 'readiness'

“Unfounded and misguided.”

This is how the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines on Thursday described the claim of the Department of Education (DepEd) that it is ready to start classes in August amid the COVID-19 situation in the country. 

The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slammed the DepEd for “failing to present significant strides” to make the claim. 

“DepEd is hell-bent on convincing the public that they’re ready to open classes on August 24 without giving substantial evidence to prove their claims, aside from their decorated simulation activities which, frankly, only showed how unrealistic and inapplicable it is to the real situation of the majority of Filipino families reeling from the crisis," ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio said. 

DepEd has been citing the success of blended learning simulations conducted in Navotas City as proof of their readiness in implementing blended learning nationwide on August 24.

Basilio noted the Navotas simulations required a weekly online session between teachers and learners as with teachers and parents, adding for the rest of the week, it required learners to study and work on their modules with the assistance of parents at a prescribed schedule.

ACT argued this could work only for students with guardians who can allot time for their child during school hours and have access to needed infrastructure for distance learning. 

Basilio asked, “What about those whose parents are both working? Or those with parents at home but have to tend to other needs of the house, including other children?” 

“We have many learners here in urban areas who don’t have a single cellphone, much less a computer and internet access, in their households, or if they did, it is used by the parents who are working during class hours," he lamented.

Equally worrisome, he said, is DepEd’s neglect of some 7 million unenrolled students.

Compared to the 27 million in SY 2019-2020, latest enrollment data from DepEd showed there are only 20.7 million enrollees for SY 2020-2021.

ACT also tagged DepEd’s insistence on opening the school year on August 24 as “misguided" supposedly as it has not presented the “most important readiness indicators” for this including: the national government’s funding allotment for school opening; the percentage of all schools with sufficient preventive measures for the safe and viable return of teachers to workplaces; the number of laptops acquired and distributed to teachers; the number of teachers trained to deliver quality education via the alternative modes of DepEd; the hours of airtime negotiated with TV and radio stations; concrete figures on the nationwide progress of module printing and its script adaptation for the broadcast modes of delivery; plans for those who will not enroll or who will drop out midway considering the surging crises. 

ACT warned of “grave repercussions” if these vital measures are not established before August 24, going on to demand urgent action from the national government, including the DepEd Central Office, for the fulfillment of the requisites.