Various groups on Friday called for the postponement of the Aug. 24 school opening and urged the government to prepare a “comprehensive” set of measures that would ensure safe, accessible, and quality delivery of education for all students.
Exactly a month before school opens, teachers’ group Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT), health professionals from Coalition for People’s Right to Health, parents of rural children from Amihan, youth from the National Union of Students of the Philippines, and children’s rights advocates from Salinlahi weighed on the planned school opening in August.
The representatives from each group aired their concerns on the “unpreparedness” of Department of Education (DepEd) for the upcoming school — particularly in the implementation of its Basic Education-Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) which is “unrealistic” and “insensitive” to the real situation of parents, students, and teachers on the ground.
Three days before President Dutete’s State-of-the-Nation Address (SoNA) on July 27, the groups also shared their observations in the past four years especially in education. For them, this government’s “dismal” fulfillment of its duties is akin to the “abandonment” of millions of disadvantaged students and education workers amid one of the worst crises in country’s history.
In a press conference via Zoom, representatives from each group expressed concern on what the school opening in August would look like.
Dr. Julie Caguiat, the Convenor of Coalition for People’s Right to Health and CURE COVID, shared the current health situation, prospects, and readiness assessment for school opening.
“Education is communication and we appeal to DepEd to conduct a more realistic school opening plan by assessing first the various circumstances of parents, students, and teachers on the ground,” she said in Filipino.
Caguiat raised concerns on the minimum health standards issued by DepEd to be observed by both public and private schools. “DepEd needs to see if these are being followed even before COVID because if not, how can we expect that these standards will be observed now that we are in the middle of a pandemic?” she said.
Aside from refusing to acknowledge lapses and shortages in terms of basic education resources needed for the school opening, Caguiat said that DepEd also failed to prepare early on. “It’s really difficult to start classes this August because DepEd’s overall response is delayed, inadequate, and slow,” she added.
ACT Teachers partylist Rep. France Castro said school opening in August should be reconsidered due to poor budget allocation and lack of sufficient funding for DepEd’s LCP. “With all the indications, we can say that the Duterte administration and the DepEd lacked foresight and I would recommend moving the school opening,” she said. “We’re not saying that education should stop, it should continue but it should not be framed under the K to 12 system,” she added.