Go calls on DepEd, telcos to serve the public accordingly

Published October 17, 2020, 9:45 AM

by Mario Casayuran

Senator Christopher “Bong” Go on Saturday reiterated his call to the Department of Education (DepEd) to ensure that students have access to proper learning materials after reported errors in self-learning modules (SLMs).

Sen. Bong Go (Senate of the Philippines / MANILA BULLETIN FILE PHOTO)

Go, chairman of the Senate health and demography committee, noted that some private schools were also reported to have reproduced their own erroneous modules, including one containing entries with double meaning.

“I am urging DepEd to work double time. Double time po dahil ang mga bata ay naantala ‘yung kanilang pag-aaral, tapos may kapalpakan pa sa module (Double time is needed as the errors further adversely affect the studies of students),” Go said in a recent interview given after an event involving the recent turnover of newly acquired fire trucks and firefighting equipment at the Camp General Emilio Aguinaldo in Quezon City.

In the same interview, Go expressed confidence that the passage of Senate Bill (SB) 1844 would accelerate the roll-out of telecommunication infrastructure needed for expanding internet penetration and improving connection speeds.

Once enacted into law, the measure, which he co-authored, will give the President of the Philippines authority to expedite the processing and issuance of national and local permits, licenses and certifications in times of national emergencies.

Unreliable internet connections are affecting everybody, particularly the education sector.

Go said he would report to President Duterte the existence of ‘’bastos’’ (vulgar) learning modules.

“Sa may mga bastos na gumagawa, wala kayong lugar sa mundong ito. Iyung libro po ay para sa pag-aaral, hindi po para sa kabastusan. Nagkandarapa na nga po ‘yung mga kabataan sa pag-aaral hahaluan niyo pang kalokohan (To those making vulgar modules, there is no place on earth for you. These books are for learning instructions, not for nasty languages. Students are already having a hard time learning, yet you inject nasty interpretations),” he warned.

Last October 13, DepEd Undersecretary for Curriculum and Instruction Diosdado M. San Antonio disclosed that DepEd is in the process of hiring reviewers to vet the content of their SLMs.

He issued a call to the members of the public to report any errors to the department’s Public Affairs Service.

The senator from Davao emphasized the importance of accuracy and appropriateness as students and parents alike face the challenging demands of online and hybrid learning.

Go also lamented that many are still struggling to obtain laptops or tablets as well as reliable internet access.

Given these issues, Go urged DepEd officials to quickly resolve the issue so time is not wasted and students can properly study using the modules as part of the blended learning approach being implemented by schools.

“Gaya ng sabi ninyo, ayaw ninyo ng may masayang na oras sa calendar year ng mga kabataan [kaya] huwag ninyo pong hayaang may maantala sa kanilang pag-aaral. Ang importante po, makapag-aral sila at tuluy-tuloy ang kanilang kaalaman at walang masayang na taon (You said you don’t want the calendar year wasted on the young. What is important is that children and students have an uninterrupted learning process and that school year is not wasted),” he said.

“Importante sa akin ‘yung kalusugan ng kabataan. Kaya ‘no vaccine, no face-to-face classes’ muna dahil wala pong peace of mind ang mga magulang pag ang mga bata ay lumalabas ng kanilang pamamahay habang wala pang vaccine. (The health of the youth is important to me. Since there is still no vaccine to fight COVID-19, there should still be no ‘face-to-face’ classes for the peace of mind of parents and their children, and no going out of one’s residence),” he continued

On telecommunication technology, telecommunication companies (telcos) point to the slow processing and releasing of permits. It it takes eight months before approval of permits, Go noted.

Go said President Duterte said it is no longer eight months but 16 days according to the Anti-Red Tape Authority (ARTA). He added that the special task force created by ARTA cut down the processing time from an average of eight months to 16 days as well as reduced the number of requirements from 86 to 35.

With a new law, there will be no more reason for the slow processing and releasing of permits, he added.

Last July 23, the ARTA, Department of Information and Communications Technology (DITC), and other concerned agencies involved in processing of permits for telco towers signed Joint Memorandum Circular No. 01-2020.

The Senator challenged telcos to improve their services and prioritize their consumers’ needs first, especially during national emergencies, rather than just focusing on profits.

On his part as a legislator, Go pledged to provide the necessary support to improve the quality and accessibility of the internet.

“So, the ball is in your hands right now […] I am urging telcos to expedite the process,” he said.

“Students have a hard time learning when they use the internet at the same time. Our Senate sessions also get interrupted by weak internet signals. How much more for the children, those living in the mountains? Service to the Filipino first before profit,” Go said.