Youth group urges gov’t to recognize importance of Internet access due to shift to online learning

A youth organization has called on the administration to acknowledge Internet access as a basic human right under the "new normal" in education, as online learning continued to be implemented in schools amid the health crisis.


"A failure to do so would only further prove that the administration is hopelessly removed from the conditions of the people, and will only lead to millions of more dropouts, and potentially, more deaths," Samahan ng Progresibong Kabataan (SPARK) said in a statement on Wednesday.

SPARK spokesperson John Lazaro said online learning has "drastically reduced" the students' ability to access education due to high fees of video-conferencing programs being used for the new normal classes.

According to Lazaro, Internet access remains limited despite the establishment of the "Free Wi-Fi for All" program in 2016, and that vast majority of people find themselves "cut off from the education they have worked so hard to obtain."

He also emphasized that modular learning, the education sector's alternative solution for online learning, is not entirely Internet-free as students still access the Internet to fully understand the topics they need to learn, especially in the absence of a teacher.

"This administration is mandated by the highest law of the land to recognize that education is a right by all Filipinos, and that no student should be left behind in any circumstance. But the reality of the past months has seen millions and millions of teachers and students alike left lagging due to the lack of a decent internet connection," Lazaro explained.

"While those with fast and stable internet can continue with online modes of learning, those who do not have a stable connection, or even no connection at all, must either deal with the sorely lacking modular learning, or give up on education altogether. There is no use in declaring education as a right when the tools needed to access it are restricted to a privileged few," he added.

Face-to-face classes have been suspended in the country since the government implemented a hard lockdown in parts of the country in mid-March to encourage strict home quarantine and reduce the risk of virus transmission due to the current health crisis.