As the country continues to grapple with COVID-19, a federation of teachers on Saturday urged the Department of Education (DepEd) to include pandemic education in its Basic Education – Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) to help empower students in processing and responding to the changes around them.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines said the DepEd’s Most Essential Learning Competencies (MELCs) – which is the abridged version of the K to 12 curriculum – under the BE-LCP “lacks content” responsive to the present health and economic crises.
“Where is COVID-19 education in DepEd’s modified curriculum?” ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio asked.
“More than ever, we need an education that is responsive to the capacities and needs of our people, thus, we demand a meaningful learning continuity program from the government,” he added.
For the upcoming school year set to start on August 24, DepEd has streamlined the K to 12 Curriculum into the MELCs wherein the total number of competencies in all learning areas from Kindergarten to Grade 12 has been streamlined to 5,689 from the original 14,171 or a reduction by 60 percent.
For Basilio, DepEd’s revised curriculum is far from being “meaningful” and responsive to the current needs of the students.
“Does MELCs empower children to be active and productive members of our communities? Will it help our students process and aptly respond to events around them?” he asked.
Without these considerations, Basilio said that DepEd will “fail millions of youth—even if by some miracle it succeeds in effectively implementing distance learning—just as it had generations of learners who had been subjected to the problematic K to 12 curriculum.”
Basilio stressed education should be deeply interlinked with social realities of which students are part of.
“Education must reflect the world we live in and is a promising weapon to allow all of us to surmount these crises,” he said. “Only then will education be relevant and compliant with its mandate.”
Basilio alleged the DepEd lacks understanding pushing for the immediate resumption of formal classes at this time.
“If anything, forcing ‘normalcy’ at this time will only further alienate students from their own lived experiences of extreme insecurity, which the COVID-19 predicament brought to their family’s health, economic situation, and their future,” he said.
For Basilio, DepEd’s “unresponsive and out-of-touch”approach to learning dampens the powerful role of education during emergencies.
“Much has been said about the forms of education delivery amid a raging pandemic, but an equally, if not more, important aspect also demands our attention—its content,” he said. “Education should equip the youth with knowledge and skills to better understand the world, adapt to its ever-changing landscape, and contribute to the betterment of society.”