DepEd says extended class hours ‘not yet official’

The Department of Education (DepEd) on Tuesday clarified their recommendation to extend school hours under the blended/distance learning approach from six to eight hours is “not official policy yet.”

DepEd noted it is just “one of the suggestions raised” and it "is still being discussed.”

The department issued the clarification after the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT) Philippines slammed DepEd for announcing classes may be extended up to 8 hours in the coming school year to complete the required number of school days as provided by the law.

For ACT, this move is “inhumane and harmful” to the overall well-being of both students and teachers and urged the DepEd to “do better by attuning measures to harsh realities” that confront its constituents.

ACT Secretary General Raymond Basilio, in a statement, alleged that after risking teachers’ safety in its failed bid to prepare the school opening and further delaying the youth’s enjoyment of their right to education, DepEd is “now set to make us suffer the consequences of government ineptitude and abandonment of education by subjecting us to a physically, mentally, and financially draining eight-hour” class. 

“With the unrelenting health and economic crises, this is just inhumane of DepEd,” he added.

 Basilio noted that not only will an eight-hour class be “extremely exhausting for both teachers and learners, thus direly impacting education quality—not to mention detrimental to their health—but it will also be inaccessible to more learners and even educators.” 

ACT added that teachers can only be given a maximum of six hours teaching time, while the remaining two hours is to be spent on other teaching-related activities such as preparation of lesson plans, activities, checking of outputs, research, training, among others. 

“Any exigencies for longer instruction time shall be compensated with a regular hourly rate plus a 25% premium on the same,” Basilio noted.

Since teachers still need to do the rest of their tasks after the extended class hours, Basilio noted that they will essentially be rendering overtime for the rest of the school year. 

“Our learners who themselves are struggling amid the pandemic will also be spent with classes and other learning exercises,” he said. “We can almost guarantee that more students and teachers alike will drop out before the school year ends.”

Given this, ACT urged DepEd and the Duterte government to “closely work on resolving the major roadblocks” to education at this time of crisis. 

“Before October 5, we expect that President Duterte has decisively backed school opening with sufficient resources and DepEd has designed a new and grounded program for million learners,” the group added.