‘Business as usual’ for DepEd in Bicol, but teachers’ problems remain unaddressed

Published November 28, 2020, 5:41 PM

by Dhel Nazario

It’s “business as usual” for the Department of Education (DepEd) in some calamity-hit areas in Bicol despite the need for recovery and teachers’ demands for relief, according to the Alliance of Concerned Teachers (ACT).

ACT said that “teacher victims” were demanding for relief during the agency’s three-day consultation cum relief distribution operations in 13 towns in Albay and Camarines Norte from Nov. 24 to 26.

“Except for Tabacco in Albay, all of the areas have resumed classes and deadlines for reports are on despite the fact that many areas still have no electricity, school equipment, and [where] learning materials have been damaged, and our teachers and learners are still struggling to bring normalcy to their lives,” shared Raymond Basilio, ACT Philippines secretary-general.

ACT said it met with teachers and school heads in the towns of Oas, Tabuco, Lagonoy, Sipocot, and Pili in Camarines Sur; and Tabaco and Jovellar in Albay. Basilio narrated that teachers have to find contacts with generator sets or travel to towns where there is electricity just so that they can print modules for their students.

While the teachers themselves need support, they are pressed to solicit for paper and ink to produce the modules, he said.

He added that teachers were burdened with deadlines for paper work and reports despite the widespread brownout and difficulties in internet signal. Teachers were also made to report to school for module distribution and other tasks.

“DepEd’s distance learning shows no compassion to our teachers and learners who are victims of the calamities themselves. Malacañang is wrong to claim that education is not affected by the typhoons as there are no face-to-face classes. The government must recognize that the typhoons have gravely affected the means to deliver distance learning, including the teachers who keep the cogs and wheels of education running,” expressed Basilio.

Basilio pointed to the lack of clear directives from the DepEd Central Office regarding the adjustments on the conduct of distance learning in calamity-stricken areas as the culprit behind the added burdens to Bicol’s teachers.

Basilio shared that not a few teachers and non-teaching personnel were adversely affected by the typhoons and flooding. Some have homes that were totally damaged.

He said that teachers complain about not receiving the promised relief packages from DepEd despite them accomplishing all the forms and surveys required by the agency to prove that they were affected by the typhoons.

ACT challenged the DepEd to account for its neglect of the education sector in calamity-stricken areas and take the responsibility of addressing their problems.