Education stakeholders on Friday warned the school opening scheduled two weeks from now will be “chaotic” with the failure of the Duterte government and the Department of Education (DepEd) to address a number of concerns including the safety of students and teachers.
In an online press conference organized by the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines, education stakeholders also voiced their worry as to the readiness of DepEd to implement its learning continuity plan.
Louie Zabala, a public high school teacher in Felipe G. Calderon Integrated School in Manila, stressed, “If it will push through on August 24, we are expecting a chaotic school opening due to lack of preparation.”
Zabala noted among the challenges that teachers like him face include the preparation and reproduction of self-learning modules.
“Until now, we have yet to see these modules,” he claimed. “We will need time to print these and distribute it to our learners, otherwise, they will have nothing to use on the first day of classes.”
ACT Philippines Secretary General Raymond Basilio, on the other hand, expressed frustration with the DepEd leadership for insisting on its Basic Education- Learning Continuity Plan (BE-LCP) deeming it wanting given the current situation.
With the printing and distribution of modules far from being completed, Basilio said that teachers “face an impossible task” of delivering education when classes start. He also expressed concern on the safety of teachers who are “forced” to meet with parents just to explain the alternative learning delivery modalities.
“Some teachers are asked to meet face-to-face with parents to explain the modules, the risk of contracting the virus becomes higher because there are no health measures in place,” he added.
Basilio urged DepEd to opt for an alternative education plan that is “less restrictive and more flexible” so students – regardless of their current situation – would be able to have access to education.
Dr. Julie Caguiat of Coalition for People’s Right to Health said DepEd and the government should listen to pleas of the teachers.
“All the indicators tell us that we are not ready for school opening,” she said. “Safety is very questionable now and with teachers forced to go to schools, we are exposing them to the virus so public health measures are really important.”
ACT Teachers Partylist Rep. France Castro agreed.
“We have to address issues of access first, especially providing the necessary funds that will ensure the safety of both teachers and students,” she said.
With all the issues raised by various stakeholders, Renato Reyes of BAYAN said now is the time to rethink the resumption of classes as scheduled by DepEd.
Aside from lack of preparations by DepEd and others concerned, Reyes said the imposition of Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) in select areas added to the additional burden of education stakeholders.
“School opening should be based on the health situation and the capacity of the educational system,” he said. “We are in an entirely different situation right now, so it is best to consider moving the opening of classes until agencies concerned and stakeholders are ready.”
Asked when would be the best time for school opening, Reyes said, “The timetable will depend on the government on how [they would] respond to the needs of the education sector.”