Vice President Leni Robredo raised concerns of teachers to the Department of Education (DepEd) on the “lack of clear operational directives” regarding the distancing learning mode ahead of the August 24 opening of classes.
In her letter to DepEd Secretary Leonor Briones dated August 10, Robredo also tackled the other issues faced by teachers such as internet connection and gadgets for the online classes as well as safety measures to protect them from the novel coronavirus.
“National leadership has been clear that our educational system will shift to distance learning or blended learning given the pronouncement that no face-to-face instruction would take place until vaccine is available,” wrote Robredo. “However, the lack of clear operational directives on such a mode of education has yielded concerns from teachers who are tasked to implement it.”
The vice president told the DepEd there are teachers who have yet to get their learning modules that may have been borne out of lack of communication.
“For example, multi-modal learning ensures that those who do not have access to the internet continue learning despite the restrictions we currently have. It is noted that these modules are now available in the DepEd Commons,” she said.
“However, there is a need to cascade information in a more efficient manner given that some teachers have expressed that they have yet to receive these modules,” Robredo said.
Robredo’s letter to Briones was an offshoot of her meeting last Aug. 7 with teachers who said they were not yet ready for the new school year.
The DepEd will implement distance learning alternatives such as online classes, printed modules or learning through television and radio for school year 2020-2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But Robredo cited data that showed 61 percent or 14 million households do not have access to the internet, while 74 percent or 34,700 schools have no infrastructure for online learning.
“It seems evident that the front-end domino to responding to these challenges is access to the internet. Perhaps, it would be prudent for government to devote significant resources in setting up internet hubs in schools and communities, so that the gaps would be addressed,” she said.
The opposition leader asked the DepEd to utilize last year’s unused funds and the P29.5 billion allotted for new buildings to procure the needed gadgets and equipment for distance learning.
“Given the shift to distance learning, many of these school buildings will be left without children to occupy them, thus deprioritizing the need for the rehabilitation of physical spaces,” she said.
Robredo listed down her concrete suggestions to the DepEd on how it can address the teachers’ health concerns. Among these are mass testing, physical check-ups, medical supplies, and protective gear for teachers.