Postponing the start of classes

Published August 16, 2020, 10:22 PM

by Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

#ASKGOYO

Atty. Gregorio Larrazabal

On July 17, 2020, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act 11480, which states: “The school year shall start on the first Monday of June but not later than the last day of August. Provided, that in the event of a declaration of a state of emergency or state of calamity, the President, upon the recommendation of the Secretary of Education, may set a different date for the start of the school year in the country or parts thereof,” (to view a copy of the law, click

https://www.officialgazette.gov.ph/downloads/2020/07jul/20200717-RA-11480-RRD.pdf).  The opening was previously moved to August 24, but last Friday, Secretary Briones of the Department of Education announced that classes would start on October 5, 2020.  That was a very good decision.

Days prior to the announcement, several senators had asked the Department of Education to consider moving the start of classes, for several reasons.  One of the most glaring reasons is that, until last Friday, there were still no Implementing Rules and Regulations for Republic Act 11480.  Considering we were less than two weeks away from the start of classes, this were very disturbing and if they pushed through with classes opening on August 24, it would have been a recipe for a disaster, which the country doesn’t need right now. However, some private schools have already started doing practice/trial runs of classes. Just to familiarize the teachers and students with the new method of teaching.

But we need to really ask, “What really needs to be done before school starts?”.

Have there been enough consultations with the various stakeholders in the drafting of the IRR?  That’s crucial and officials should not cut corners in making sure the issues are discussed thoroughly, not done haphazardly.  This is the education of our children, and THAT’s a very serious matter.

Have the concerns of the various teacher’s organizations been addressed?  I’ve read several articles where not only teacher organizations but individual teachers have vented their frustration as to the shortcomings in the preparations needed BEFORE classes start.  From lacking the basic tools required by teachers, which make them spend their own money, just to make sure they can teach the children, to finding ways to have internet access.  For one thing, even if the biggest number of enrollment is from the National Capital region (NCR) and Region 4-A, people have to understand that that internet connectivity in the Philippines is still bad, in almost all provinces in the Philippines.

Even if there is good Internet connection of a specific province, there may be certain or many areas within that province that don’t have access to the Internet. I’ve been driving around the Philippines for some time, and I’ve experienced this firsthand.  This is something that has to be looked at.  I assume the DepEd officials have already been discussing with the telcos about this concern.  If they haven’t, then that’s a huge problem.  If they have, it’s important to make sure that there’s sufficient feedback from the schools division superintendents.  Yes, it will take more time, it is more tiring, and people have to work harder, but it IS something that needs to be done.  No shortcuts, please.  Listen to the teachers and the teachers’ organizations.  They’re the ones who will be doing the actual teaching, so they have to feel they’re supported 100%. Throw away the “bahala na kayo” attitude and approach.

Aside from the concern above, another concern are the modules. Early in August, there were concerns that the modules were not being provided to the teachers.  It appears there was a problem in the reproduction of the modules.  I hope that this has been addressed.  You can’t let teacher’s pay for this cost, again.

Again, it’s a very good decision that opening of classes was moved to October 5.  However, it is expected that the additional time will be used wisely and effectively to ensure that discussions with the various stakeholders will happen and should be an on-going process, and the concerns of the shortcomings will be addressed.  The education of our kids depends on it.

Stay Healthy. Wear a mask PROPERLY.  Practice Physical Distancing.  Check your Internet connection.

 
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