In lieu of printed modules, a federation of teachers challenged the Department of Education Wednesday to provide gadgets or release textbooks to students under the distance learning program.
The Alliance of Concerned Teachers Philippines made the statement following the plea of Education Secretary Leonor to “lessen the use of printed modules in distance learning,” noting that it is not economical and harmful for the environment.
As DepEd pushes for lesser dependency on printed modules, ACT noted that the agency should instead provide learners with needed smartphones, tablets, audio file players, and other “gadgets so that modules can be utilized by learners in their digitized format.”
“DepEd has no one to plead to but itself,” said ACT national chairperson Benjamin Valbuena. “Nobody wishes to waste ink and paper, especially not the teachers who were burdened with the taxing and costly printing of modules,” he added.
ACT found it “odd” for Briones to make this plea when it is DepEd itself which decided for the adoption of printed module modality for learners who have no access to gadgets, Internet, and even electricity. “DepEd contradicts itself with its plan to expend another P1.2 billion to reprint damaged modules instead of using the amount to procure gadgets,” he said.
In a press briefing of presidential spokesperson Harry Roque Tuesday, Briones said that P1.2 billion will be downloaded to regions to replace, among others, the learning materials damaged by recent typhoons. She also pleaded for lesser dependence on printed modules, saying these are “very expensive” and not sustainable for the environment.
Valbuena pointed out that the P1.2-billion quarterly budget module printing, which DepEd said is ready for release to replace damaged modules in calamity stricken areas, can in fact procure 200,000 tablet units based on the price at which the Quezon City local government procured tablets for its high school students.
“Procuring gadgets and using digitized module copies will address the problem that DepEd is raising,” Valbuena said. “Other options such as battery-operated audio file players can be used in areas where electricity is not available, the DepEd only has to have the will to implement this, gather as much funds that can be used for this purpose and act immediately,” he added.
Valbuena asked why textbooks in public schools “were not maximized” for distance learning when they are already available and has richer contents than the modules that were produced.
“The textbooks should be immediately released to students,” Valbuena said. “DepEd only needs to produce a study guide for students to identify which particular lessons should be studied based on a streamlined curriculum that is appropriate in the pandemic and calamity context,” he added.
ACT said DepEd’s “confusing and fickle statements” on distance learning only shows the glaring unpreparedness of the agency in implementing distance learning. “Almost two months into education continuity, we see more problems arising than resolved (and) this brings much anxiety among our teachers as it seems that the captain is uncertain as to where and how to steer the ship,” Valbuena said.
To address all the lingering concerns on distance learning, ACT is demanding for a more “competent, efficient, and consultative” leadership from DepEd, one that “listens to the voices on the ground and accepts sound suggestions from all sides.”